Swimming for Putney(3)

Nobody can call themselves a Londoner unless they have swum in the murky waters of the Serpentine. A cloudy day last week meant that the ball at Edgbaston was taking so much swing that the Ozzies had no chance. It also meant that at the Serpentine the  massive 100 meter plus area marked off in the boating lake there were only a handful taking the plunge.

Of course while humans may  have second thoughts the Canadian and Greylag geese have no such problems. They have  made the beach for this Lido rather original. Well its organic, its different and it’s  shit.

But what shit,the Greylag was a sacred animal for both the Egyptians(the bird was the symbol of the sun god Ra) and the Greeks who felt the love god Aphrodite  favoured this  feathered beast. Goose fat was considered an aphrodisiac. No wonder there are those standing in the shite. Smear it on for added pleasure. In a family blog I cannot dwell on the meaning of the expression gooser.

In many horror films there is a drowning sequence. The victim gets caught in cloudy water, they cannot see,they cannot escape the weeds and the undergrowth in the foul pond. They sink and the camera catches a despairing drowning swimmer. AS you swim in the Serpentine you can suddenly find yourself enmeshed in green gunge,not just the odd strand but an octopus of slime. As Swimming in London states,”  its like swimming in melted tweed”.

But the water is warm and has that silky feel of all fresh water. It was here in 2012 the open water  Olympic events took place. I watched. It was like seeing  feeding time at a salmon farm. A thousand thrashing arms, all making the utmost effort and creating small incoherent waves. That’s the spectacle of open water swimming events. A lot of heat but no light. But of course it was  packed out.

Then when you stand in the Serpentine there is that suspicion  of what your feet are touching. Is that soft object an old piece of cardboard,an old T shirt, ah a condom,you almost daren’t look. Its OK, its just more slime. This is after all a lake not a pool. The geese have to feed on something.

But of pleasures. One of the many pleasures of Hyde Park generally  is the sight of Arabs,many well fed with their modestly dressed harems and perfectly mannered, beautiful children. Some of these, with the imagination for which they are famous, hire peddalios and while away the odd hour. They are accompanied by local born adoloscents who scare their screaming girl friends by rocking their craft. Ah the joys of youth.

But don’t be put off. As the book states,”Swimming in a lake is living, unpredictable and wholly natural. For the converted, to have access to nature slap bang in the middle of massive  urban space is fabulous.”

I’m one of the converted. It takes all sorts.


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