Team Brockwell at Tooting

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A team from Brockwell Lido made the short journey over the borough border to Tooting Bec Lido for the South London Swimming Club Winter Gala on Sunday morning. Brockwell Swimmers is an informal collective of folk who enjoy the cold waters of Lake Brockwell.

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The 9:30am start was slightly challenging for some.

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Trophies were on show to be competed for. Brockwell Swimmers just fancied a splash around in a different location to be honest.

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Steaming mugs of builder’s tea – the cold water swimmer’s best friend.

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Tooting Bec Lido provided a wonderful setting for the early spring Gala. The 100 yard pool has been offering an outdoor swimming experience in South London for 109 years. The fountain thingy remains a beautiful centrepiece.

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The coloured cubicle doors are something of a Tooting icon. They have been immortalised in this TfL commissioned print by the artist Alex Jeffries – which also just happens to hang form my bathroom wall.

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All of the races took place down in the shallow end. The 100 yard length of Tooting might have been a little too ambitious for the x8 relay race. Instead the swimming was competed for across the width of Tooting.

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Setting up the PA for the start of the Gala. You can’t go wrong with some reggae tunes on a Sunday morning.

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The many clans of cold water swimming had gathered at Tooting. A new club seems to emerge each week.

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One competitor takes an early dip – which is ever so slightly stretching the rules. The Gala rules are quite strict about having your head above water before the start of each race. The organisers want you to feel the cold water pain.

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It was a actually rather mild. There was no confirmation on the actual water temperature, but something around 5 degrees would be about right. Lake Brockwell was 7 on Saturday. The South London rule of thumb is to take two from Brockwell to give you the Tooting temperature. The larger sized pool takes a little time to heat up naturally.

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Some last minutes race tactics: SWIM.

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It was quite a cat and mouse game in knowing when to strip off for your actual event. Sixteen races took place in total. You didn’t want to shoot your swimming load and put your shreddies on, only to be left standing around and waiting for the starting horn to sound.

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A final check of the race running order.

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And a run down of the rules. You would be surprised how confusing it can be to organise a team of eight swimmers so that they are all placed on the correct side of the pool.

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The Man on the Mic was something of a star. There is a definite technique in calling a cold water swimming Gala. You need to keep it brisk and allow the races to flow. There was one unrepeatable comment made on International Women’s Day though…

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A latecomer for Brockwell Swimmers arrives. Hello Sir!

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The Serpentine swimmers certainly packed a punch.

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And the first race is almost ready for the off! Team Brockwell raced out of Lane 4 all morning.

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Note the precise technical details here ahead of the backstroke. Both hands holding the rail, shoulders above water. What could go wrong?

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A graceful exit after a graceful swim.

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This shuffling technique in an attempt to leave the cold water is known at Brockwell as the @oneeyedgrey Wobble.

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Swimmers and spectators add some encouragement. Even competitors that finished last were given a huge cheer. We should know…

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You never really see anyone at a lido who ISN’T smiling. Nice pair of budgie smugglers, Sir.

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A relay race gets underway. A nervous Brockwell Swimmers member bides his time ahead of becoming water bound.

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SWIM FACE.

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A seamless glide cuts through the waters of Tooting.

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More relay racers awaiting their grand moment.

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Cheering on Team Brockwell.

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This backstroke effort looked so smooth. Sadly it ended in a collision with another competitor. The rather cruel outcome was a disqualification. Boo!

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There is a reason as to why this fella is so focussed. He is about to impress absolutely everyone at Tooting with the most spectacular butterfly stroke. Good effort, Sir.

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A lovely day for a swim.

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Scrambling out of the pool. The classic swimming faux pas of not bringing an over-sized dressing gown was observed by some. Guilty.

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ALL cold water swimming Galas must involve tea and cake at some stage. It’s part of the rules.

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A peaceful Tooting Bec.

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And a final look at those LOVELY changing rooms.

Brockwell Swimmers finished joint fourth out of five teams come the close of racing. A trophy ceremony took place. We were too busy showering down the short ‘n’ curlies to capture any pictures.

A fine effort from the Brockwell folk, and a wonderully organised Tooting Gala.

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