18 August 2013

My Big Blue Swim

My Big Blue Swim

My Big Blue Swim by Maya Makri

When people tell you they had a life-changing experience, I always tend to regard these type of statements as an exaggeration or, frankly, as rather smug.

However, my swimming holiday with the The Big Blue truly was life-changing and life-affirming. I surpassed the swimming goals I set myself by a long shot, met wonderful, like-minded new friends and felt healthier than I have ever done.

I should start off by saying that I couldn’t really swim a year ago, so I truly am a novice swimmer. I am very severely visually impaired and always thought that I would feel completely terrified not knowing how far I am from the water’s edge. I never could have imagined how liberating swimming would be for me and that the water is the only place where I am not bracing myself for impact.

My swimming story began when I was inspired by The Big Blue guide Chris Malpass to take my first tentative strokes in the water in July 2012. From the outset, the aim was to be able to do The Big Blue Swim in 2013.

Those who have learned to swim as an adult know how slow and arduous the adult learning experience can be. So, I worked my way up to being able to swim 70 lengths in a 25m pool, which was no mean feat for me. I was incredibly nervous when we finally got to George Studios on 30th June 2013 and met the other swimmers. Everybody had stories to tell of Iron Men, two-ways (swimmers seem to be a kinky lot) and open water championships.

However, once we were divided up into our groups, we all just seemed to find our pace that was right for us. I was lucky enough to be taken under the wing by a former diving instructor who was not only incredibly encouraging, but had the calm demeanour of a wise sea creature; just what you need when you’ve not swum in deep waters before.

Our swim guide was fantastic, keeping a close watch over us at all times, but also giving us personal swimming targets to improve our stroke and style. Every day we seemed to get more tired and at the same time happier to be achieving and sharing so much. Even though the group was very diverse, everyone loved swimming and somehow that was incredibly bonding. I want to say a big thank you to Lisa, Michael and the rest of the Big Blue team for their exceptional organisational skills, swimming know-how and for facilitating this unforgettable experience.

It’s Big Blue all the way for me now!

Maya Makri

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