The Bantham Swoosh is a relaxed 6K river swim that ends on a little beach near Hope Cove.
As we grouped for the safety briefing I began to feel fluttering nerves. It was at this precise point that I wondered if I could actually manage to swim 6K.
The idea is the river current will swoosh you up onto the finishing beach, whereby you'll exit like a Bond girl, looking amazing in a wetsuit.....at least that's what I imagined.
Until this event I was a total novice to outdoor swimming. I am a fair weather swimmer. Indoor and heated, or outdoor with warm weather. But with a few Vobster Quay swims under my belt, I stepped with trepidation into the brackish waters of the River Avon.
The first 500m was great, I'd even go so far as to say I was really enjoying it at that point.
But when I reached halfway, at least I thought it must have been halfway at that point, that's when the mind games really started.
Could I really do this? Did I want to actually do this? Is that a giant squid that just touched my leg? Oh look there's someone being pulled out by a jet-ski, I wonder if I should flag one down.
When things started to get challenging, in my mind I started to doubt everything, and I really questioned my ability.
So I tried to steady my thoughts by focussing on what I could do. I could breathe and I could keep my arms entering the water one after the other. I repeatedly did the mundane; breathe, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, whilst keeping my sights on the end game; reaching that finishing beach albeit looking like a half drowned sea monster as opposed to a hot Bond chick. Breaking the last 4K into tiny achievable tasks really helped and I completed the swim and my swimming partner constantly reassured me whilst politely ignoring my request to point in the of the nearest jet-ski.
So how did my cold river swim make me think of Free Rangers?
1) If we venture outside our comfort zone, we'll learn about ourselves in different situations and that can be really thrilling. It's so easy to say, I'll do it next year, or I'll start that soon. Ask Nike say, Just Do It, it's the only way to start. I've noticed that the children at Free Rangers rarely procrastinate, they just get on and do stuff and that attitude really enables them to learn every minute of every day.
2) It helped me see the world from a different perspective. At Free Rangers we strive to remember that children have this habit of seeing the world through fresh eyes. Seeing the countryside from the water really did provide me with a sense of adventure, that feeling of "I've never experienced this before.' We can all definitely learn from children as much as they can learn from us.
3) If you're going to do something challenging ultimately you'll need to rely on yourself but having a friend nearby to make that environment familiar is really reassuring. We're big into making friends at Free Rangers and this really helps with lots of things, from potty training all the way through to learning how to share adventures together and solving disputes. Being able to build positive relationships is pivotal to a happy and fulfilling life.
4) Building empathy is really important. Doing something for the first time reminds you what others might experience when they do something for the first time. On a daily basis the little people at Free Rangers challenge themselves or find themselves in challenging situations that they need to navigate their way through and understanding this as professionals helps us to better meet their needs. We also need to remember as adults, that if we can help to make a new experience a positive one then this too is going to build on the child's development, their perception of themselves and the world around them.
So whatever adventures, big or small, you're all getting up to this Summer have fun and remember if things get tricky it's not always a bad thing.