It has taken many years for the idea of pod swimming, non competitive marathon swimming, to come to my attention. The first time I experienced it was back in the day when I could afford to go on swim holidays, and I swam with Simon Murie from Swimtrek and a few others, across a bay. We were thinking about technique, the experience is still stored in that special place that special memories are stored. About the same time I found I swam at the same pace as a man who was on the same holiday. We were in Greece, I still remember the joy of swimming with somebody else in very blue clear water. Our pace was the same, the swims were a few kilometers long, and the epic quality of the swims were enhanced by the feeling of not being alone.
I always say I like swimming alone, and in fact I do, however I am not so keen on that alone feeling during events when you think you are the last person in the race, and spend time beating yourself up for clearly being last, and clearly being rubbish. This happened to me swimming in chop from Alcatraz. The sea just swallows up the other people and there you are. Alone.
I met Kate Rew actually in the water. We have always swum together rather than against each other, and there is great joy and love, timing your movement to another, matching the stroke, adjusting slightly as one or the other speeds up or slows down. It is a non-verbal communication and I am convinced it can lead to deep friendships.
It is a non-verbal communication and I am convinced it can lead to deep friendships.
I swim with Steph Simon and Queenie Martin, both inspirational swimmers in the South West. We only swim say once or twice a summer, but the joy of their company and their easy rhythm always make the best swims of the year. I feel ridiculously happy and full of love during those swims. So special.
I swim with people I teach so they can pick up on the rhythm of the swim.
It is easier to pick up on a rhythm of another swimmer if you have a similar stroke. Luckily for me my best pod swimming is with people I have coached. However, having said that, I have swum with people with different styles, and although it is impossible to swim synchronized, the nearness and pace fulfill the same role.
It is very useful for them to match their timing with more experienced swimmers, and to get a chance to feel what it is to fly in the water, rather than plod or struggle.
Kate and I really wanted to capture the essence of synchronised, supportive pod swimming when we were filmed swimming the Mawddach Estuary. We were doing a recce for the new Hurly Burly, OSS event in October. We have great plans to expand our pod. What is the optimum number? Do we have to swim abreast or would a group, like a cycling pelaton, work?
We will report back.