I'm trying limit how many events I do this year, partly for financial reasons and partly to try to enjoy activity again and let go of the desire to smash it every single time - a lesson injury is forcing me to practice. Vigour Events are fairly relaxed - there are no prizes for winning - but they are always exceptionally well-organised and safe.
So when I saw Scotland's first-ever night swim advertised I knew I had to go along.
Honestly, I'm terrible at spotting (ie looking where I'm going). I've been known to swim in circles over longer distances. I'd say I swam 6km at my last 5km!! So I was a tad worried about following the 1km route without crashing into a moored boat.
For me there's something a bit eery about looking into the abyss in open water swimming. And I'm scared of the dark (honestly - if I'm alone in a new place I need a light on! Because ghosts!). So I was half expecting some ghostly figures to be swimming about under the water, waiting to tickle my feet, or drown me. Either or.
The night came and a few of us taking part went out for dinner, agonising over what to eat and how much. My pal Nathalie Jones is a dietician so I paid attention to her choices and tried not to over eat. It's a hard call and with the swim starting at 11pm to reflect the light nights of a Scottish summer, eating at 8pm would surely be fine.
When we arrived we were given torches to put in our tow floats and a glow stick for our hats so that the rescue team could see us. There was a relaxed, excited atmosphere! The usual "why are we going this?" and "what is the water temperature?"!
Well the water temperature was about 18, so boiling for Scotland, although the wind chilled is as we entered the water as the last of the twilight faded. It was some sight to see about 20 glowing beings enter a dark Loch. We worried about how to see where we were going but we had a lighted kayak follow.
We yelled at Robert to hurry up and start us. And off we went.
Just relax and enjoy it.
I tried for about 3 seconds. Then I put my foot down. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF! It's fun. If I know I'm in the front it's like a drug.
I tried hard to pay attention to the stars, the aeroplanes flying overhead, the glowing people behind me on the turns, the darkness of the water, the warmth. But with someone (Lesley!) on my tail I just rammed on and put a hard effort in.
My dinner came back to haunt me and I had a terrible stitch. Almost debilitating. It was actually hard to see where I was going too, despite the kayak, and getting to the finish line was even harder as the kayaker left me to it and I couldn't see a thing! I had to stop a few times to see where the hell I was but I made it eventually. Not my fastest 1km that's for sure but one of the most fun.
Of course I prance about saying "I won" to my family and Robert, the organiser, but I didn't really. Yes I fought hard to swim as fast as I could and I'm proud of that. But you can't win over a bunch of amazing people who are having a lovely time splashing about on a Saturday night, challenging themselves, fighting their own battles, addressing their own fears and living their best bloody life.
Rumours of another in the works abound so maybe I'll be doing at again this year and I'll be able to chill out, maybe do it without a wetsuit, and enjoy the stars.
As ever massive thanks to Vigour for taking care of us and to the amazing volunteers and kayakers keeping us safe and happy.
And if this hasn't convinced you to give it a shot, all Vigour events give you a Tunnocks teacake in your goody bag ("sold" I hear you cry!).
See you at the start line of the next event!