Swimming Events Guide 2024
FEATURES,  Features

“I’m not fast and my technique isn’t the best. But boy am I happy!”

Comedian Angela Barnes is taking part in the Macmillan All Out Swim challenge. We caught up with her to find out why and to learn some good swimming related jokes.

Why are you participating in the Macmillan All Out Swim?

I have a friend who is a Macmillan Cancer Support nurse, so I know just what brilliant work they do for people and families affected by cancer. I am not the sportiest of people and fun runs are just an oxymoron to someone like me. But I can swim and I can’t think of a better reason to get tired, wet and cold – bring it on!

How long have you been swimming?

I am new to swimming full stop. I’ve always loved being in water and pools, but I just never learned to swim properly as a child.  In 2014, I booked a course of swimming lessons and I haven’t looked back. I loved it. Jill, who was my brilliant teacher at Crystal Palace Sports Centre, will probably never know what a great gift she gave me. As soon as I got the confidence in the water, I was away. I just regret all the years of swimming I missed out on.

What does outdoor swimming mean to you?

It isn’t an understatement to say it has changed my life. Then soon afterwards, the brilliant Jenny Landreth, who has written excellent books about swimming, took me to my first lido swim at Tooting Bec, and I loved it. Now, as soon as the summer comes, I head to the nearest lido wherever I may be working in the country. There is nothing more exhilarating than outdoor swimming, to feel the outdoor air around you. The endorphins are raging after a good outdoor swim, I’m high as a kite, it’s great for getting stuff done, better than ten cups of coffee.

10007006 10151923157396831 1617107178 N

Angela with Duncan Goodhew after her first ever swim challenge – 1.5km, three months after learning to swim!

What training are you doing?

Not enough probably!  I try to swim as often as my schedule will allow. I am usually gigging all over the country, but I always have a swimming kit in the back of the car, and swim as often as I can. 

What have you learnt from your swimming journey so far?

I was never one of the sporty kids at school. In fact, I hated any sort of physical exertion. But learning to swim was a revelation. I find it a zen-like experience. After a while in the pool, that part of my brain that is always buzzing with thoughts about work, ideas and what I’m having for tea just switches off and I am able to feel properly at ease. I never believed I could find an exercise that I not only could endure, but actively enjoyed. It’s like a drug, I am always looking forward to my next swim. I’m not fast, in fact, I’m positively slow, and my technique isn’t the best. But boy am I happy!

What is your favourite swimming related joke?

Q: How do you drown a stupid person?

A: Put a scratch-n-sniff sticker at the bottom of the pool. 

Hey, you didn’t say it had to be a good joke!

Angela Barnes is supporting Macmillan Cancer Support by taking part in All Out Swim at Brockwell Lido on 30 September. To get involved and find out more about Macmillan’s swimming events visit macmillan.org.uk/alloutswim 

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.