Open Water swimming is available for everyone and accessible to everyone.
Swimming in beautiful lakes, in wet suits that do keep you very warm and with people who are equally as crazy to jump in the cold water as you.
But it takes a special kind of person to want to do a race, over 10km, in the open water of Lake Buttermere.
Having experienced a swim of around twenty minutes myself early for a launch day, it is not easy, and it takes a dedicated athlete to cope with the challenges.
But the challenge of swimming for four hours is something which Mark Pinder, a novice to open water swimming, is looking forward to.
“I like to have a challenge or goal to focus on in general, and since running and triathlon are out due to injury, I saw this event as the equivalent to running a marathon, both to be completed in four hours,” he said.
“It was either a swim or long bike ride, and as most of the training was during winter, I felt I would rather be in the pool than on the bike.
“Also swimming was always a weak sport for me in general and I became the family joke with my poor style, so it made me more determined to take it up.”
Pinder has had success as a track and field athlete in the past for City of York but is also a keen athlete and is used to training to a high intensity having run the London marathon a few years back.
However he still found training difficult for this, but because of things others take for granted: “Training started well, but the past month when the distance in training has increased from 3-4km swims to 5+ I find it hard to find the time, due to the availability of public swims in the local swimming pools, as many “Open Swims” are not on for long enough (more than 2hours) to complete longer distances.
“I have been training with the Triathlon Club twice a week, but again these sessions are one and two hour sessions, which helps with the technique, and more enjoyable working within a group, but struggle to get the mileage in.
“However I am not too far off plan with 5 week to go, I would have liked a few more longer swims and I will make sure that I get these in during the last few weeks but my swimming has improved amazingly. I look so much smoother.”
So then why the Utterly Buttermere swim this summer? You can see the attraction to the beautiful lakes, the weather, the course, but no for Pinder it was everything and that ‘race’ aspect.
“The whole day in general and the achievement of completing the 10km race, it will have been something I have worked to since December, so it will be the elation afterwards.
“Also getting into a lake, with this year having a long cold winter, lake swims have been limited, but this event will mean a long swim in the lake, which is more interesting than endless lengths in a pool during a swim session.”
The event is now one of the greatest on the calendar and is seeing people from far and wide join in with the fun, due to its unique nature. Pinder alone admits that even he has inspired a few.
“I originally entered with a friend from the tri club, although she entered the 5km, and since then more members have signed up to both the 5km and 10km since word has got around during the Triathlon swim sessions. I think there are around eight of us doing it now, but we all have our individual goals, some for a certain time, mine personal for sub four hours, and others to just complete the event,” he said.
So if you are free in June, want to do something with like-minded people, want one of the biggest rushes in the world and the sense of ultimate achievement, get yourself to Buttermere.
For more information on the event check out http://www.headtothehills.co.uk/events/item/utterly-buttermere-swim-sportive.html