I’ve not written much about swimming on here. Why? The hashtag just doesn’t get much traffic. Whilst runners, cyclists and triathletes, even #yarnbombing are all over social media, swimmers, it seems, are more of a introverted breed. Simply, there’s not much to say about swimming. Many find swimming boring; I find it cathartic, but “I did 100 lengths down the pool and the leisure trust doesn’t allow photography,” doesn’t cut it on Instagram. I try my best though…
I’ve had an amazing summer of open water swimming. Being outdoors is infinitely more Insta worthy with the added likes for being a bit awesome/bonkers, (you choose.) Still, even this is a hard social media sell.
One of the first questions I asked Kayaker Bob, my support for the Windermere One Way was “can you paddle and take photos?” Despite my offer of a selfie stick, he refused. So my epic swim was reduced to a snap of me grinning lakeside with a bobble hat on. No point in a write up either. It was basically just swim, breathe, swim, breathe…
I’m being disingenuous of course. There’s more to life than what we choose to portray on social media. I personally use Instagram as a scrapbook; my online collection of memories that brighten me up on a rainy Wednesday lunchtime at work. I enjoy connecting with people with similar interests and have met people and had interesting experiences as a result. On the whole though, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, whatever, are all smoke and mirrors and I take online approval or not with a mighty pinch of salt.
Saying that; I have a confession to make. I’m always on the look out for the Insta shot. I have artistic tendencies! I discovered on my trail runs that my Samsung phone with it’s pinhead lens was never going to capture an ounce of the beauty of the vistas from the hills. So, I started running to trigs or scouring OS maps for landmarks, any feature to hang my shot on. I have ordered meals on a menu because they will make a better photo than the potentially more tasty but less attractive option that I would prefer. A bowl of soup vs tempura garnished with edible flowers? I’ve stopped mid-ride to upend my bike against a wall and capture a sunset through the spokes.
I spend a lot of my time in the water these days, often in some incredible settings, but I’ve still never quite managed to capture the spirit of my new found love. Despite offering my 4 teens a cash prize for the best grammable shot when I dragged them all spotting, action shots are generally a barely discernible blob of brightly coloured silicone and a flailing arm, (often frustratingly without the mandatory high elbow profile.) Open water swimming is not a spectator sport either, incredibly dull to watch, and often I’m on my own.
Swimsuit selfies, wetsuit and goggle-eyed shoreline smiles; my photos often feature me near the water rather than in it!
Next year I’m swimming the Channel in a relay. I’m not saying I’m doing it for Instagram. That would be ludicrous. But. I dream of the shot. The one with me in the foreground, swimming in the choppy waters, perfect form, sun glinting off the cresting waves and, close behind, the P+O ferry cruising along in the not too distant background. Don’t judge me; if you’re going to swim in the world’s busiest shipping lanes this is the photo you want on your mantlepiece, (and your Instagram.)
I have high hopes that my team mates will do their best for me. There will be enough people on that boat that surely someone won’t be a shivering, puking wreck? In return I pledge to swim my very best. Fingers crossed that my stints don’t fall in the darkness of night time or in the shallows at either side; with 10 months of training ahead, I’m already hoping the tides will be favourable, the jellyfish few and that I’ll get the ultimate Insta pic.