But the Channel is not going to be like this. And I need to train in water that is not so clear.
Jumping in the men's pond on Hampstead Heath for the first time last night was a big of a shock. The water is not scummy, or smelly - but it is green, and the visibility is reduced to less than arm's length. Being unfamiliar with the layout of the buoys and ropes indicating the contained swimming area, and unsure on any etiquette, I was confused within a few strokes of where I was, and where I needed to be heading. It was disturbing, and slightly scary. The pond was fairly empty, save for a few people diving off the board, and whilst on the one hand this was a blessing compared to the often-packed lido, it meant I wasn't sure of the best way to head.
I wondered if I should get out and go back to the lido instead.
But I did notice another swimmer, and suddenly I realised my mistake: I was swimming the wrong way round the roped-off area, and this was adding to my disorientation!
I'll explain what I mean. I do not breathe bilaterally, meaning I can only take a breath to my right side. I had been swimming in a clockwise direction around the lake, meaning I could never see the rope which lay to my left, marking off the boundary. By turning round, and keeping this rope to me right, I was immediately provided with a guide. All that remained was to look up regularly to find out where I had to turn left, swimming in a large circuit which, strangely enough, took me almost exactly ten minutes each lap.
I swam for an hour (six laps), took a quick break to reapply some lubricant to my armpits which we chaffing, then did another five. It felt strange swimming amongst the ducks and brushing against leaves and twigs, but once I was used to it (including seeing a long-legged Crane take off and fly inches above my head) it was an enjoyable experience. I will be back to that pond lots over the coming year.