Why I’m swimming 4.5km in Wales’ largest natural lake

We spoke to Camille De Groote, our Head of Development, who will swim 4.5 kilometres in a lake in Wales to raise funds for Streetwise Opera. The Big Bala Swim, in North Wales, is not for the faint of heart. On the 1st of June, when the swim will happen, the water temperature of Bala Lake can drop to 13°C.

Why did you want to take part in this particular challenge event?

I love a challenge, and I love challenge events – the energy, the camaraderie and the good causes who benefit – but I have bad knees which means running is out of the question. I have always loved swimming, so I started thinking about a long-distance swim, and then I found out about this one in Llyn Tegid in Wales. Living with a Welshman, I often visit Wales and I’ve fallen in love with Snowdonia. So a 4.5km swim in a Welsh lake in Bala was a match made in heaven – it was time to put words into action!

Why are you doing this in support of Streetwise Opera?

I have known and respected Streetwise Opera for nearly 10 years, and I passionately believe in the power of music, particularly when things aren’t going great. As I wrote on my sponsorship page, I’m doing this for our performers in London, Nottingham, Manchester, Newcastle Gateshead and Teesside; for the Mancunians acting out Carmen with gusto, for the Londoners shining bright on stage at the Royal Festival Hall, and for the Northerners singing their hearts out about their Geordie pride.

What are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to all of the swimming, but I’m mostly looking forward to the last 500m, when hopefully I’ll know the worst is over, I might be able to see the finish line, and I can enjoy the water, the rhythm and the flow. To be honest, this may be naïve wishful thinking! I might be in pain, very, VERY cold and wondering what on earth was I thinking … But I prefer to think positively, and at the moment in the pool, the last 500m are the best, when you’re just gliding. So I’m looking forward to gliding!

What are you dreading the most?

The 30 minutes before, when you have to go through the registration and warm-up and standing around. It’s when the anticipation starts building, and I know I’ll just want to get in the water and get going. For this event, all swimmers get on an old-school train to get to the starting line, so hopefully the train and the amazing surroundings will distract me.

What’s your training regime?

I’m swimming twice a week: one evening session – sometimes with an instructor who makes me swim with lots of floats and props, or sometimes with my local gym’s ‘swim squad’ which includes seasoned swimmers who are all much quicker than me; and one weekend early morning session. So Sunday morning 8.30am (when most people are still sleeping or brunching) I’m enjoying quiet time in the pool. From next week on, the weekend session will move to outdoor lidos and from May on I’ll look for reservoirs and lakes to get open water experience.

What will you eat for breakfast on the day of your challenge?

That’s a very good question! I need to do some research. My mum always said you shouldn’t eat before swimming! So I think I will get up early so I can have a couple of eggs and some toast at least three hours before kick-off. Any tips – on breakfast or general swim training – much appreciated, please give me a ring at the office!

You can follow Camille on Instagram via #SwimmingForStreetwise and sponsor her swim on www.virginmoneygiving.com/camilledegroote. Good luck and ‘pob lwc’ to her from all at Streetwise Opera!

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