And so it begins…..  my first tentative foray into proper open water swimming. My name is Fiona, and for the next few months I’ll be chronicling my journey from pottering in the public baths of Greater Manchester to taking on the Great North Swim and the might and majesty of Lake Windermere.
 
First things first - I've never really swum in open water before. Paddled about - yes. Jumped waves and fallen off surfboards - yes. But swum a mile in cold, open water… that will be a no! But I’m excited – I love swimming and I love being outdoors. In the eternal sunshine of my mind I can see myself powering across Windermere looking every bit the athlete as the water around me sparkles in the morning sunshine. The reality is somewhat different sadly. While I say I love swimming, the truth is I love being in water – swimming is just a socially acceptable way of getting to spend time in the water. In an ideal world I’d be doing handstands and summersaults or rescuing bricks while dressed in my pyjamas. Seeing as this is generally frowned upon in most public pools – along with diving and heavy petting – I tend to stick to good old breast stroke for an hour or so.
 
If I gain one thing out of this whole adventure, I hope it’s the ability to do front crawl properly. While I was working in marketing for a regeneration agency in 2009, I met Keri-Anne Payne. She was talking about the importance of public swimming facilities and we filmed her using a new pool that we were just about to open. Watching her move through the water was mesmerising. The water was completely flat apart from the slight bow wave she created, she was moving so fast and yet so quietly and gracefully. That’s my ambition, I want to be able to do front crawl in a manner that doesn’t alarm the lifeguards. Obviously I’ll never be Keri-Anne Payne, but what are we if we are without ambition?