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Hi, I’d like to introduce myself, I’m Rachel or Skip to some people.  I was born in Cheltenham and have lived here all my life, so land locked.  I’m a married woman, with two grown up sons and work as an Emergency Nurse Practitioner within the community setting.


I’m 53 years old and should know better, I am about to take on an exciting and amazing new challenge supported by Swim Secure, South West Swim, Sandford Parks Lido, Sea Swim Cornwall, Lenches Lakes and Selkie Swim Co taking my swimming from the lanes of the pool to the open water of the lakes and sea.

I enjoyed swimming for a while when my boys were younger, for my own sanity and that of my husband’s.  I would disappear for an hour or so a week, plodding up and down the pool with my local swim club in an environment that I felt confident and comfortable in. 

Then I decided to train as a nurse!  Yep crazy, a mature student, 3 years at university, assignments to write and work placements to contend with.  Juggling all this with the ever-increasing demands of family life.  My swimming was not a priority and the last thing that I had time or energy for.

My boys were very sporty and I was forever picking up and dropping them and their mates at different sporting venues.  From these activities with the boys I became involved with the local rugby club where they played.  I, having always loved to watch the game, thought that I would like to give this sport a go. So one day I joined in with the ladies at a training session and that was it; I played rugby for the next ten years!  During this time I became captain of the team and being the skipper is where the nickname ‘Skip’ comes from.  I’ve now retired from the beautiful game and hung up my boots, being far too old to be charging about like a thing possessed.

So what next?  I joined a gym and work out with weights which I enjoy but feel I now need a new challenge.

My thoughts were drawn back to the pool and the pleasure and relaxation that I got from being in the water and wondered could I do this?  So I entered a local triathlon! (Mira Showers Triathlon on 19 May).  The fact of the matter is that I hate running but the draw of the water was there and this triathlon is in a beautiful 50 metre open air pool (Sandford Parks Lido).  But no, this was not even enough of a challenge, so I applied for a place to take part in a charity open water swim from Padstow to Rock and got a place!  I would need to get back in the water to see if I could still swim but how difficult could it be after all these years?

I happened to mention this in a conversation to a friend about my new challenge and that back in the day, which was a long time ago,  I was quite a strong swimmer.  Going on to express how I love the feeling of freedom and escapism that I got from being in the water.  What I forgot to mention to this friend was that this water was nice and clear in a heated pool.  Well, before I knew it this ‘friend’ said that she knew someone who knew someone who could make this happen!  And just like that my new swimming challenge was born (note to self: learn to keep my thoughts in my head!)

So, I’m going from swimming in beautiful heated, clear water where you can see the other end of the pool, following the black lines, knowing that you’ve only got 25 or 50 metres to go till you can turn and go again or rest.  Why would I want to spoil a good thing? 

But I’ve always wanted to do something a little different, well different for me, and to take my swimming on a new path. To learn how to swim in open water where there is no line to follow or end in sight for a sneaky rest.  Where the water won’t be as clear and will be a little cooler, if not freezing *slight exaggeration* and I dislike being cold immensely….this could be one of my biggest challenges!

So I feel this adventure will take me on many different paths mentally and physically.  Physically I am not that daunted as I am quite strong from playing front row in the scrum at rugby and am a frequent visitor of the gym.  I think the mental aspect of this challenge could be the stumbling block for me.  How will I cope out there in the open water without the safety of the lane?  How will I cope with the temperature of the water?  How will I cope swimming in the sea with the waves and the tide to contend with?  Already these aspects are worrying me, I am probably over thinking them.  Maybe one thing at a time is the way forward.

I must admit this is all a little scary, but exciting at the same time…..possibly…..

So this challenge will take me WAY out of my comfort zones.

How hard can this be I ask myself ? 

Time will tell. 

Click here Part Two of Rachel's story 


1 comment

  • Loved reading this
    Good luck xx

    Jo Mitchell

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