Great North Swim becomes Amazing Wild Swim

On Friday I headed up to the Lake District with DH for what was supposed to be one of our final events of the 2010 season.

Sadly, a text at about 7pm on Thursday put an end to that plan.

“Great North Swim – cancelled – due to blue green algae”

Brilliant.  This was the swim that I was doing with my friend Fran to honour our 40th birthdays.  And also a swim to get me over my fears of cold water.  Cancelled.

I went online on Friday to research blue green algae, and Fran went on a scouting trip – first to see if the algae existed and then to find us a new route.

Blue green algae lives under the surface of Lake Windermere, and when the weather is warm and the water calm, it can bloom.  And bloom it did on the Wednesday before the swim.  The Great North Swim organisers, dealing with 9000 swimmers, cancelled the swim with prudence, as the algae if ingested can cause stomach distress, it is a neurotoxin, and it can cause rash as well.


We can discuss if this was overcautious.  In fact, as the wind picked up over the weekend, I didn’t actually see the algae at all on the lake.  And the other swim on Windermere taking place – the British Long Distance Swim Associations 10.5 mile swim – still took place.  But alas, the Great North Swim was cancelled.

Well, just because an organised swim is cancelled doesn’t mean that you still can’t do a swim.  Fran and her father brilliantly found us and mapped out a new swim location for Sunday.  We headed down the path of doing a wild swim.  One mile in Rydal Water.


With the fantastic support of Fran’s family, who provided race transportation, finish line aid stations, event photography, and a cheering section, we headed to Rydal Water on Sunday morning.

If you haven’t been to the Lake District, it is fantastically beautiful.  Rydal Water was not an exception to this.

We made our way to our swim start…


The swan marshalls let us know we were in the right spot.  We donned our wave caps (the Twitter #swim caps wave of three).  And without much hesitation we set off to do our mile swim.


If you look closely you can see us at the 900m marker, just to the left of the island in the water there are teeny tiny three white caps.

We fought an unexpected enemy – sea reed – and after about 55 minutes of leisurely paddling, site seeing in the water, enjoying the sunshine, and trying not to be eaten by the swamp thing, we found ourselves at the finish line.


Here you can see us exiting: Me, DH, and Fran. Teamwork, with Fran taking the lead to guide us safely on our wild one mile swim.

Happy finishers.  Greeted with hot coffee and a kit kat.  A perfect day.  And… I think I am over my fear of cold water.  I felt good, no crampingi issues, and was a happy swimmer (as you can see from the smile on my finish line photo)!

Thanks to Fran and the Monks family for being such amazing hosts for the day. 

Note:  Fran did this swim for MacMillan Cancer Support.  DH and I would have swum the Great North Swim thanks to places from Macmillan too.  If you would like to support this excellent charity then please donate and click here .  Thank you.

3 responses to “Great North Swim becomes Amazing Wild Swim”

  1. Good on you for making it happen, looks like you had a great time & glad you enjoyed the Lake District – it looks like you had one of the few occasions it doesn’t rain!

  2. We had a great time. It was really beautiful. It also helped me to keep with my current goal – just have fun – as it was too beautiful to swim fast and miss the siteseeing!

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