Christopher Stocks

Island Life

Back into the swim

My first swim of the year this weekend, though admittedly it was in a friend’s pool rather than the sea, which friends who have been in all agree is (and I quote) “fucking freezing”. But then returned to London yesterday and back to my regular running this morning, which I’ve started to enjoy at least as much as swimming now – and oddly, it strikes me, for pretty much the same reasons.

They’re both cheap, for one thing: with money so tight there’s no way I can afford a gym membership at the moment, but running costs hardly anything – just a decent pair of shoes and some old shorts; same with swimming – a pair of trunks and you’re away.

Yet there’s more to the similarities than that. Running give me an exhilharating sense of freedom – the feeling that somehow you can go anywhere, in a way that you’d feel awkward if you walked: down dead-end streets, round courtyards and parking lots, through twisting passages and  alleyways, into areas you don’t know and have never been before. It’s a wonderful way of exploring the city around you, and I’ve surprised myself in going so far – round St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Bermondsey, Trafalgar Square, through the City, even as far as the Gherkin one day.

Harder to define is how physically similar the experience of swimming and running can be: once you get into your stride there’s even a similar sense of bouyancy somehow. Even more than that, as I shouldered my way as nimbly as I could the other day through crowds of commuters emerging from Farringdon tube, I could have been shouldering my way through the waves as they fell on Chesil Beach. Strange meeting indeed.

Comments are closed.