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Lakes Swimming & Flip Flops
I felt slightly sick the morning of the Great North Swim. All of a sudden Sunday’s ‘race day’ was upon us and it was time to put all the training to the test. Queasiness was also present because I had set up a Love Your Lakes stand on Thursday evening and was unsure if the weather had washed away my phosphate-free samples and laundry themed laminated works of art.
Arriving on Sunday morning it turned out that despite half of the display being on the floor it was nothing a quick clean couldn’t fix. So we donned the Love Your Lakes T-shirts and set about talking to the crowds via the medium of free magnets. Lots of people were interested and as soon as people make the connection (phosphates in dishwashing & laundry products = harmful for the lake) they are quick to change their products and invest in Lake Friendly alternatives.
Love Your Lakes is a brilliant campaign. For me, events such as the great North Swim really highlight Lake Windermere’s position as a resource, and the need to look after it cannot be ignored. Living here and seeing it every day it can become simply another part of the scenery, its size and beauty rarely suggesting vulnerability. However after years and years of increasing tourism along its shores, Windermere is suffering from phosphate overload. All those squeaky clean plates, sheets, towels and table clothes cleaned via phosphates have contributed to the decline of Windermere’s water quality and Windermere remains vulnerable until people take responsibility and change to phosphate-free alternatives.
Despite my knowledge of algae and suchlike I have been training in Windermere twice a week since April and have not suffered a single consequence other than slight weight loss (hurrah), stiff shoulders and new swimming friends. Sophie and I have benefited from outstanding tips and training sessions from Active Blu and Head to the Hills, two brilliant companies encouraging outdoor swimming in this area and supporting the Love Your Lakes campaign.
So 11.15am approached and I left the Love Your Lakes stand in the capable hands of Amanda & Kev from The Brambles who kindly volunteered their enthusiasm and Windermere love. Sophie and I headed to the ‘acclimatisation area’ which resembled a scene from a fishery where the fish had been replace by 300 orange headed, wetsuit clad, over excited swimmers exclaiming against the cold. With a quick wave to Helen Skelton and the BBC we were in the lake and at the start of the swim. After some initial frustration with the amount of people in ‘my’ lake I enjoyed cruising round the course in a sweet 36 minutes. Sophie followed with a PB of 50 minutes and we celebrated our mini victory with a crepe and some pasta!
Unfortunately the only sour point of the event was a huge pile of discarded flip flops. The flip flops, pictured above, were received in the changing rooms by event organisers. It seemed that participants, Sophie and I included, were pleased to be given an alternative to walking through the mud after changing. What I didn’t expect to see was ‘flip-flop-ageddon’ on the main drag of the site. I have never seen such a blatant disregard for the simple concept of reduce, reuse and recycle. The event organisers could have easily avoided such a situation. For example, present the flip flops as a gift not a throw away freebie. Or don’t give people flip flops. This is a perfect example of how irresponsibility can leave a bad taste from an otherwise flawless and enjoyable event. In case you’re thinking of running an 8000 strong weather dependant event….. (you never know whose reading!) here’s a link to our sustainable challenge event guidance at Nurture Adventure.
Flip Flop and out ;-)