When I was younger, I was frequently ‘rescued’ from the sea by fishermen who refused to believe that anyone who had swum that far offshore had not been swept away. I was offered assistance as a child as I headed out towards France (from Hove), and then when travelling around Australia off the coast of Townsville, and on my honeymoon in a bay in Thailand.
“I’m ok,” I’d tell my would-be rescuers. “I’m having a swim.”
I’m much more nervous in the water these days. I head out to the buoys off Brighton beach but I like to keep sight of land and lifeguards.
Nonetheless, I miss the freedom of being fearless, which is why I signed up with Hove-based SwimTrek’s open-water coaching week in Mallorca - hoping to become a bit more intrepid. My coach John obviously liked that word because he soon began using it as my nickname while barking out instructions in the Olympic-sized pool where we first trained.
“Don’t cross, Intrepid,” he’d yell, referring to the way my arms moved in the water.
We spent two hours each day focusing on stroke and breathing techniques, followed by humiliating video analysis. John freeze-framed in all the worst places so everyone could see your arms crossing and legs flailing. It’s a good way of making you try to correct things you’ve been doing wrong for years.
Illustration by Joda