No storm, no toothy monsters, no blooms of slimy squid, no panic, no drama at all. Nothing but the moonlight, colourful glow sticks and a whole bunch of happy people gathered by Lars Bergelius for an awesome 2K night swim in Esrum lake. For the occasion I had teamed up with Thomas, Dennis and the crazy girlzz, Sis Camilla and Kirsten The Floater.
We’d thought the night would be a totally different kind of beast. For most of us, the mere thought of darkness brought an instant sense of unease to our stomach. But if I want to cross the English Channel at some point, I have no choice but to practice swimming at night. So we decided to embrace our fear and break through its barriers. We signed up for the event and headed out to the lake a few days before on a recce mission by late daylight. Nothing alarming to report but the funny “sweet” taste of fresh water in contrast to salt water and a bit of grass drifting astray. I can’t tell if it’s our preparations or the huge ice cream we had at the local Sørup Ishus, but by Monday night all primal fear had vanished as we entered the water with peace on our mind… and a few butterflies in our stomach after signing the usual accident waiver and release of liability form against the organizer. That part always gives me the creeps. It reminds me of my own mortality and feels like signing my own death sentence! 😮 (Yes, I love a bit of drama!)
The swim turned out to be very peaceful and comfortable. The weather conditions were perfect, so the darkness didn’t bother us at all. Mind you, this first experience was done in a stretch of lake water (how rough can it be compared to sea water?), but for a first time it couldn’t be any better. Calm water and great company trump everything else.
I had a fantastic swim. I barely thought about the darkness along the way. Instead I couldn’t help but admire the amazing phosphorescence in the water. The moon light was so bright I could see it play hide-and-seek with my arms and the tiny bubbles of my hand stroke. On several occasions I did a bit of breast swimming in order to enjoy the sight of innumerable glow sticks stuck in swimming caps and SaferSwimmer floats, spread all over the water surface like a floating disco.
At some point I stopped in amazement to watch the full moon rise over us and the woods around Fredensborg Castle. Only to turn around and discover a moonlit rainbow over the opposite shore. A full rainbow at night – THAT was a first for me!
The night was magic and once again I’ve realised what a fascinating dimension our brain is. It didn’t take us long to recognize each other amongst 35 people. Not our facial features, but the mere shape and outlines of our heads. The brain swiftly adapts and compensates by processing visual, auditory and sensory information you didn’t even know it’d been stocking for years. Fetish or not, I could recognize Thomas’ and Dennis’ feet in the water at night, as well as their kick and their stroke. I even managed to redo the smart breakaway zipper on Thomas’ wetsuit with nothing but the feeling of my fingertips and a few images randomly imprinted in my brain guiding my moves. So yes, the brain is fascinating – as long as you remember to switch it on. Otherwise you end up colliding head-on with the reed bed, your face all tangled up in grass, as I did. 😉
For me, our first night swim is one of those experiences that’ll stick with me forever. No competition, no sport potency issues. Nothing but pure companionship and the serenity of life by night. Swim, cake and fun – with all profits going to a local charity. What’s not to love about it?
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