My first open water swim by Hazel Slimmon

The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was the perfect evening for an open water swim. But I was nervous, this was my first open water swim ever. I have been swimming regularly in the pool, working up to this moment, but now it was here I was nervous and excited. I had my sister with me, she was an experienced open water swimmer and I knew there would be safety crew in the lake so I knew I was in safe hands.

We got our wetsuits on under the swimming gazebo and headed in the direction of the lake. After a briefing from lake manager Paul we into the lake. The water was cooler than I’m used to in the pool, but not unpleasant. As my adrenaline surged it took me a minute or so to calm my breathing down and to adjust to my new surroundings. I took my time putting my face in, doing a few strokes and taking deep breaths. Knowing that I could put my feet down at any time gave me peace of mind, as did the smile from the kayaker. Before I knew it we were cruising between the swimming buoys. My sister gave me a few tips on sighting, but even so I was fairly terrible – it’s not quite the same as following a line on the bottom of the pool! Still, I enjoyed the excuse to stop, take a look around me and enjoy swimming alongside the reeds.

After our first short loop I decided to ditch my wetsuit. I’m not used to swimming in one and was finding it quite restrictive. Luckily the water was now feeling quite toasty (it was 23 degrees!) and I didn’t have an issue returning to the water with just my costume. Without the wetsuit I felt able to swim more fluidly. I still found it a little strange to look down and not see anything but the view when I up more than made up for it. As we got out, the lakeside team checked us off the list and we quickly got changed. I felt amazing, the cold-ish water had left my skin feeling like it had a wonderful glow on it and I felt properly alive! The chatter of exuberant swimmers around me told me I wasn’t alone. My sister and I grabbed a hot drink and sat on the grass overlooking the lake, chatting. It felt really special, and a rare moment of calm in our busy lives. I am looking forward to going again – Luton Hoo is a stunning venue and for a beginner like me it was the perfect introduction to open water. I can’t wait for my next open water swim!

If you would like to try open water swimming at Luton Hoo, or one of other OWS venues you can find out more here.