From Sinking to Swimming: A Comedy of Errors in Pursuit of a 5km Swim

Greetings, fellow water enthusiasts and reluctant swimmers! Join myself and Laura on a journey that started with us struggling to swim one length without resembling a drowning cat and ended with us signing up for a 5km swim. Yes, you read that right. And no, I’m still not entirely sure how it happened!

Picture this: Two peri menopausal women, flailing in the pool like a distressed penguin, gasping for air after a feeble attempt at freestyle. Oh, the humiliation! But did we let that stop us? Absolutely not! Instead, we embraced our lack of aquatic grace and turned it into a source of endless entertainment.

I was lucky to stumble upon a kindred spirit on a quest to conquer the water and together, we formed a dynamic duo of splashy awkwardness, embarking on a swimming journey that was equal parts laughter and sheer determination. Our motto? “If we’re going down, we’re going down laughing!”

From accidentally inhaling half the pool to unintentionally kicking each other in the face (who knew synchronised swimming wasn’t our forte), every practice session was a comedy of errors. But through the splashes and giggles, a beautiful friendship blossomed – one that could weather even the stormiest of chlorine-filled waters.

Fuelled by our shared love of self-deprecating humour and the occasional, ok a lot of snacks and coffee breaks, we set our sights on the ultimate challenge: a 250m swim event by Go Swim. Did we have any business attempting such a feat? Not really. Did we care? Absolutely not! We were in it for the ridiculous moments, the inside jokes, and the sheer joy of defying our own expectations.

In our quest to conquer the waters and escape our children, my newfound swimming buddy and I decided to up the ante by enrolling in an open water swim course designed for differing swim levels and triathletes.  As we fumbled through drills and exercises meant for seasoned triathletes, we couldn’t help but chuckle at our own antics. From accidentally swimming in circles to mistaking the coach’s signals for interpretive dance moves, we quickly established ourselves as the comedic relief of the group. But hey, at least we were consistent in our ability to entertain!

It wasn’t easy and despite our peri menopausal anxiety, self doubt and irrational fears of the water and cold, each session brought a new wave of confidence and camaraderie thanks to K3 Triathlon coaching (Ashley and Kieran) and our supportive family and friends.  We bonded over shared struggles and celebrated every small victory, no matter how comically insignificant it may have seemed. Our laughter became the soundtrack to our progress, reminding us that it’s okay to stumble as long as we keep moving forward.

And slowly but surely, as we navigated the waters with equal parts determination and humour, something magical happened: we started to believe that maybe, just maybe, that first open water swim event wasn’t such a far-fetched dream after all.

We showed up to the Go Swim event in our typical laid-back and tardy fashion. Laura’s unwavering belief in our abilities, her contagious can-do spirit, convinced us that we could conquer the 750m swim and encouraged Kathie on Registration to change our event category. Thank goodness for her motivation because as we glanced around at the event’s start, we noticed that the 250m swim was occupied by kids!

Spoiler alert: we not only survived the 750m swim but emerged victorious, albeit slightly waterlogged from the 10 feet swells in loch tay and sporting some impressive goggle marks and as I later found out a broken toe for me – now I felt like a professional. As we crossed the finish line, gasping for breath and grinning from ear to ear, we knew we had achieved something far greater than a mere swimming milestone – we had forged a friendship as unbreakable as our swimming caps.

After another awesome event from Go Swim at beautiful Loch Morlich, Laura and I decided to give ourselves a little treat the day after. We settled on a swim at Loch an Eilein, a spot where you can paddle out to a tiny island with the remains of a castle. As we reached the island, we bumped into a delightful lady – that’s the beauty of the swimming community, always ready to share the fun!

During our chat, she casually mentioned how her friend had spotted the largest pike ever seen while swimming here. I glanced over at Laura, who had a look of sheer horror on her face (pike were her sworn nemesis in the dark Scottish waters)! With some synchronised flailing and a touch of panicked doggy paddling, we set a new record on our way back to shore escaping Sir Bites-a-lot. Safe to say, we shattered our personal best!

So, Laura and I got a bit carried away with our swimming obsession and ended up signing up for more swim events and even triathlons! Yes, we’ve officially become those middle-aged ladies you see dominating the race scene! We swam the Kessock ferry swim and battled with the salt and seaweed, not to mention a punch in the face from a fellow swimmer (not sure that’s mentioned in swim etiquette) and then ate our body weight in the best cake and food I have ever seen at an event! We also managed the mammoth 3km Go swim at Loch Morlich with the usual bunch of super friendly and supportive crew!

We thought we were getting serious about our training until we realised our transition times for the triathlon s needed major improvement (mine was currently about 1 hour and Laura’s about 5hrs). After Laura’s questionable Google search for “lub” (oops), we focused on quick wetsuit changes to shave off precious seconds. And then came the dilemma of tri suits. My neighbour, a pro triathlete, lent me her GB suit without mentioning her gold medalist status! I couldn’t possibly wear it – I mean, it practically guarantees lightning speed, right?

With one successful triathlon under her belt, Laura bravely teamed up with me for the next two (poor thing). Cue my many bike failures during both events. Despite the setbacks, Laura’s upbeat spirit never wavered, even when she had to stop and help me with yet another puncture. Picture us giggling our way through a challenging tire change – comedy gold, truly! After our skilled 3-hour change, we headed off again. Only to be struck down by another puncture!

After this I sadly had to bow out and hitch a ride back with my “punctastic” bike.  Meanwhile, Laura persevered through the Nairn triathlon, where we received the most positive and encouraging attitude we have ever witnessed at a triathlon event, and we both came over the finishing line together – last but together! We even got a mysterious voucher from the event – maybe for being the fastest at something, I think? Who knows!

Instead of scaring us off, our misadventures only fuelled our determination. Our journey to this point wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our local pool, our fitness pals, and the unsuspecting strangers we may have accidentally stalked at the pool (our bad!). I was quite surprised by how much peri menopause changed me, feeling less confident, unable to cope and along with a big slap In the face of irrational anxiety’s, emphasising how much support, where ever it comes from, makes such a significant difference.  Now, we’ve taken the plunge and signed up for 3 sprint tris and the colossal 5km swim at Go Swim Loch Lomond this summer! Maybe next year we will even dawn the white caps for the challenging 10km!

So, to all my fellow aquatic adventurers out there: embrace the chaos, laugh at your own clumsiness, don’t compare yourself to others, and never underestimate the power of a good swim buddy and doing it for yourself. Who knows? You might just find yourself swimming – and laughing – all the way to the finish line.