FEATURES,  Readers' Swims

From bucket to bog snorkelling

When Margaret Bell’s swimming instructor told her to blow bubbles into a bucket of water to help with her breathing, little did she know she would be using these skills to enter the World Bog Snorkelling Championships just two years later. 

Last August Bank Holiday I entered the Rude Health World Bog Snorkelling Championships. I couldn’t see in the bucket and I couldn’t see in the bog either! 

I took up swimming aged 65, just before Lockdown, with visions of floating in sun kissed clear pools. I’d moved from full time to part time work so I had time to pursue a relaxing activity. About 18 months into my journey my instructor Karen Barton, of Southport Adult Swimming, suggested that I take up a challenge to give me something to aim for – I didn’t fancy trying to cross the Channel just yet so we settled on bog snorkelling at Waen Rhydd peat bog in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. 

Some competitors donned amazing costumes with their fins and snorkels. Superman went first on the 120 yards of murky trench, followed by sea creatures, a princess on a unicorn, a bearded bride.  

I went for speed and was thrilled to swim to the end and back below the three-minute benchmark. By rights I should have had my time halved as I did twice the distance hitting the banks of the ditch. 

The overall winner, Neil Ritter managed an amazing 1 min 20 secs. Whilst I didn’t come away with an award of my own, I did come away with a World Champion, as my amazing teacher Karen won the award of Over 50s World Champion Bog Snorkeller.  

Plus, we raised £350 to help fund swimming therapy for my friend Sarah Steel’s three-year-old daughter Isla Rose Steel, who has a rare genetic disorder, Non-Ketotic Hypoglycinemia (NKH). Isla’s amazing journey can be found at islarosefoundation.com, all donations are very much appreciated. 

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.