(with apologies to triathlon friends and Richard!)
“I thought that was you”, Richard Smith said to me on Thursday afterwards.
…there was careful cold water acclimatization going on, triathletes emerging from their winter hibernation, technical discussions, comparison of wetsuits and swim trackers… “I saw this person in a bikini barge* through with an attitude of “…just going for a swim…” ”
(he did say barge, but I think he meant it in a good way, I did not actually elbow anyone off the ramp)
I’ve seen triathletes swimming: some of them don’t seem to like the water very much, they like to have a fight with it. And they do like wetsuits or their legs sink, with all that bike riding and running about: too much muscle, not enough fat!
But whatever you have to do that gets you in the water: and they are getting in the water now. They nearly all overtook me, of course, but I don’t care, I’ve got all year, they’ve only got a few months!
And apologies also to Vobster: it’s definitely not all triathlon swimmers, as it sometimes has a reputation for being: there is a dedicated bunch of year-round swimmers, both skins and neoprened, and it’s the best water in Somerset! …come and join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/988659817829090/
I’ve been looking at some of my photos taken at Vobster Quay, of swimmers underwater. I take these as an aid to creating paintings and not as an end to themselves, but I thought I would share this with you. The movements of swimmers are always lovely, it’s the weightlessness, but I particularly liked this sweep down, a dive with two leg kicks.
The camera is an Olympus Tough (orange, now obsolete, but there are newer versions), It’s very wide angle which makes the swimmers look quite far away and quite deep down, even if you see just one photo close-up. Click on the sequence and you should be able to see it in reasonable detail.
‘Why do you do it?’ said the diver, struggling into her drysuit and eyeing my swimming costume with a tinge of horror. Because this is what it looked like; because being in a wetsuit is not the same as being in the water; because I can.
I do admit to wearing gloves yesterday, I had forgotten that, when I drew this. Particularly good for chilly swims when you can’t help but stop and take photos. I had a slight dilemma about adding people to this picture, so I finished two versions.
September 15th: Vobster Quay’s annual ‘Glow Swim’ and the swimmers are ready to go. Once, twice… four times round the lake for the super-keen, in the dark. The sploosh of swimming loud in the ears, the flash of 80 glow-sticked heads, and the occasional swerve and bump and ‘oops, sorry’ on this surreal nocturnal journey.
Tuesday was our last swim of the year (I am not counting a visit to the swimming pool yesterday, which was warm and chemical). At Vobster, we ended on a high note of December sunlight, an exceptionally mild 10 degrees, and Fiona’s chocolate caramel shortbread. The two figures in the foreground are Ruth and me though, because I rather thought our swimming attire looked jolly together, and I have amusing writing across my new swimming costume bottom, especially designed and ordered by Plum for a relay race next month. On the front of it there are appropriate snowflakes, but it’s barely even cold yet!
I have no drawing for it but today I also did my first swim of 2016: It was Clevedon New Year’s Day swim, a quite different setting and a mass affair accompanied by much shrieking from those foolhardy enough to think that leaping into 8 degrees does not require a little practice…
The leaves are just beginning to turn, but they aren’t in the lake yet. What was in the lake was suddenly an impressive amount of rain, the mist that seemed to lie on the surface of the lake was not actual mist, but the view across the surface of the water through a million splashing raindrops – my eyes being mere inches above the water. This was Vobster on Tuesday; it’s still warmish – above 15 – but it’s cooling down now. Winter is coming!
Raindrops on water, at Vobster Quay
I have just listed a lot of swimming drawings as greetings cards in my Etsy shop, click here to view them.
It’s pretty hard to draw from memory, even on a last lap round the lake, breaststroke, with nothing much else to think about than to pay attention to what it looks like. But it might have looked a little like this, more or less.
There had been other swimmers yesterday evening, though fewer lately, but the last time round there was just two of us. All too soon Autumn will come in and it will be a mere handful of hardy souls left. And then after that just three of us, catching the sunrise again not the sunset, on our Tuesday mornings.
But please join us if you feel inclined, we’d love some more company.
Vobster, yesterday. It was indeed fine weather for ducks. Fortunately there we were to take advantage of it: a flotilla of five rubber-clad ducks. Two of us training for Coniston-end-to-end, three for the Dart 10K; both end-of-the-summer long swims, though I have to say I think that the summer may have ended early. It’s not like we weren’t going to get wet anyway, but cross your fingers if you would, for a bit of sunshine the weekend after next!
This is the drawing I meant to do two months ago, the start of one of Vobster’s Aquathalons. That’s me, the odd one out – the one without a wetsuit and who has no intention of going for a run either. It’s always good fun though and the presence of lots of frantically thrashing neoprened bodies makes me swim a little bit faster!
Yesterday was August’s Aquathalon, and I have to admit I skipped it in favour of swimming a lot more laps, but I was there in the lake at the same time, doing my own thing.
Anyone without a knowledge of perspective and wetsuits may fail to spot the subtle fact that I am lower in the water than everyone else, so I just thought I’d draw it to your attention. Of course that may just be because of the cake I ate first …
And anyone who was there, I know you all had white hats on not red ones, but red looked better: Beauty is Truth, Keats said so.