Aquatic adventures by Mollie Pearse
3rd October 2018
I didn’t mind swimming, physically I was always ok; decent shoulders, big feet (even aged 10) …but it didn’t spark the same soul-igniting passion for me that horses did. So, as a youngster predisposed to hyper activity, swimming ended, and I was once again set free into the vast expanse of the stables and surrounding farm land. Brilliant.
I wouldn’t find swimming again until I was 27 – sure, the odd splash on holiday, some cross training for rowing, but not real swimming. Aged 27 I hit, what became known, as Knee Gate; over training, walking the Pennine Way with a 30kg back pack and numerous other overzealous pursuits had landed me on the surgeons table, despite several months of trying to adhere to the Hippocratic oath. I concluded that the best course of action was to refine my swimming skills, which is where my utter love and adoration for all things aquatic was born.
Post-surgery, I decided that I should probably set myself a goal and so signed up for the Coniston end to end swim; 5.5miles across Coniston Water. Slightly overlooking/ignoring the fact I had never swum in a lake and probably hadn’t swum much further than 300m without stopping. Minor details. Metaphorically and physically, I jumped straight into the unknown challenge and a variety of bodies of water that came with the territory.
I was reminded of this amazing journey earlier this week – my gorgeous girlfriends created an incredibly kind and emotional video for me, that they delivered in the week before the race in Coniston along with a framed picture that simply said #JustKeepSwimming, which still sits above my toilet as daily motivation! Now, any video that has the song ‘Proud’ by M-People over laid is odds on as a tear jerker, so as it popped up on my Facebook memories this week I found myself crying tears of joy in the middle of bank station. Much to the confusion of the steely commuters in my proximity.
The video made me realise what swimming has done for me and what that moment in time taught me. Swimming challenged me, swimming gave me a purpose when I thought I was lost and I guess swimming fixed me, both mentally and physically. Swimming has since become one of three things that I do as part of a triathlon, it has become a source of adventure and a weightless treat for my aching body! This summer has been rather exceptional for aquatic adventures, from the cold waters of Norway, to the blissful lakes of Slovenia and not forgetting the steroid inducing lakes of our very own Lake District. Swimming has become a powerful connector to groups of fellow water enthusiasts; earlier this year I joined Team Selkie, a group of incredible swimmers – channel swimmers, recreational swimmers, mothers, fathers. Normal people with a common passion. Swimming has been a source a great pride as I’ve watched my good friend Helen go from a thrashing white wash of flailing limbs, to an open water mermaid swimming 4.5km across Bohinj in Slovenia.
I’ve always loved water, but swimming became a defining activity of my late twenties. Being submerged in water, especially murky lake water, taught me that you don’t always need to be able to see where you’re going in order to make it. It reinforced the value of the journey and it gave me a new sense of what’s possible. Which really is anything you want. You’ve just got to jump on in!
Thanks for listening