Paula and Dave run the Nemes Diving and Watersports Acadamy at Holborough Lake in Kent. I had spoken to Paula at the lake to book my induction on Sunday before heading home from Devon.
I woke up early, keen to head over for 11am when my assessment was booked. The whole family was coming for moral support and I’d heard that there might be some Easter treats at the lake as well!
We arrived at about 10.30am and the facilities looked great, proper changing rooms rather than the empty shipping container I’d seen at another lake I had visited earlier in the year. This lake was primarily a divers lake but it looked perfect for swimming with a well-marked circuit.
Debbie (my wife) and the girls immediately decided to take part in the Easter treasure hunt and various other activities that had been laid on. I paid my £15 and proceeded to change into my trunks. Dave was dragging his small rowing boat towards the small slipway that allowed for an easy entry to the lake. He was to escort me up to the yellow buoy and back (the pre-requisite distance for the swim assessment).
The whole circuit is about 400m and I was planning to do at least a lap, just to get my monies worth. Dave was sitting in his inflatable dingy, oars in hand, waiting for me to lower myself into the water. I think I might have sworn on entry as it felt much cooler than the sea in Budleigh.
I later read somewhere that the sea, when compared with fresh water at the same temperature, feels warmer. I would agree with that based on my experiences that day and since.
I slowly stepped off the slipway and into the waist deep water by the wall. I lowered my goggles over my eyes and splashed myself a little in order to acclimatise and then I just decided to go!
Head down I swam as fast as I could (I may even have kicked a little) all the way up the side of the lake to the furthest yellow buoy, Dave keeping pace as best he could in his dingy. I stopped at the end and Dave had a puzzled look on his face declaring that I only needed to go as far as the smaller buoy that bisected the two larger yellow turning buoys. I didn’t really understand what he was on about as I didn’t remember seeing the other buoy on my way past. I asked if he was happy for me to finish the lap, he smiled and left me to get on with it as he rowed back to the slipway.
At the end of the lap there was no sign of my supporters so I decided to swim another lap before getting out. I beached myself on the small slipway, clambered to my feet and made my way up the path to the changing room, I was offered a free cuppa en-route which was nice and as I got dressed Paula kindly wrote up my membership card.
I hadn’t paid much attention to the noisy group of people eating cake as I exited the water but it turned out that they were all Nemes Nutters, a friendly bunch of scuba divers, swimmers, kayakers and long-suffering partners of the above. By completing my swim assessment it would appear that I was now a Nutter too!
I soon realised however that it was not quite as simple as that. The Open Water Swimming faction of the Nemes Nutters had their own special initiation practices.
It was absolutely necessary for me to engage in a lot of chatting, hugging, kissing, helping each other get dry and in some cases dressed, eat vast quantities of cake, drink tea and of course partake in a healthy amount of swimming!
In reality being one of only a few male Nutters, I was readily accepted into the group and I couldn’t have imagined the friendships that would develop over the coming months and years. Without exception all of the Nemes Nutters are lovely people and I’m proud to call them my swimming family.
Little did I know at the time, but the Nemes Nutters Swimming Club is legendary in Open Water swimming circles and as at 14th July 2014 the roll of honours looked like this!
- 19 successful Solo Channel Swimmers
- The World Record Holder for the longest ever Channel Swim
- 4 successful 2-way Channel swimmers
- Over 30 successful Channel Relay swimmers
- Record holders from the Oldest Channel Relay Team
- Ladies from the FIRST round the Isle Of Wight Relay Team – record holders!
- The first UK Ice Mile Swimmer
- The oldest Ice Mile swimmer in the world
- Gold, silver and bronze medal winners at the 2013 UK Cold Water Championships
- A World Championship Qualifying GB Triathlete
- One of only 19 people to have swum Loch Lomond solo
- The only person to have swum 2 miles in 0 degree water – record holder!
- The first place in the UK to hold an official “Ice Mile” event
- 2012 World Cold Water Swimming Championships Latvia 450 @ 0 degrees C. Gold in category
- 2014 World Cold Water swimming Championships Finland 450 @ 0 degrees C. Gold in category
- 2014 World Cold Water swimming Championships Finland. 150 @ 0 degrees C. Silver in category
- Relay in Bering Strait, Russia to America, 6 days, two Nemes Nutters in the team!
- First ever English women to swim 1,000 meters winner overall in the Arctic Circle @ 0 degrees C
- First relay of the Great Caledonian Way 49 miles one Nemes Nutter in team
Compiled by Nemes Nutters Swim Coach and now good friend Giovanna Richards.
I was in awe when I realised the scale of the achievements from within this group of people and I wanted to learn from their experiences and add to the list of accolades.
The truth of the matter however, was that before I was able to do anything worthy of this list, I would need to train harder than I had ever trained before in order to prepare myself for my next daunting challenge, the BLDSA Champion of Champions!