Monday 11 September 2023

One day one photo - 11: All ready for Swim Serpentine - But will it happen?

My gear for Swim Serpentine arrived in the post, which I was glad to see as I am actually looking forward to doing it. It is my favourite mass participation swimming event. 

I have been doing a lot of swimming this year, and for the first time ever I was out swim training consistently through the winter, including a couple of trips to the unheated lidos at Brockwell Park, in Herne Hill, and also Parliament Hill Lido. 

But alas, once again the lake, known as The Serpentine is closed due to the presence of blue-green algae blooms, so we are all in suspense as to whether or not the event will take place. When water test results on 30th August revealed high levels of cyanobacteria, The Serpentine was closed immediately. 

When a few other swim venues have fallen victim to the dreaded blue-green algae this led to the place being closed to swimming for around three or four weeks. If this is the average amount of time it takes for a lake to be rid of blue-green algae, Swim Serpentine may as well be cancelled now, given that the water won't be clear before the big day on 17th September. 

Frustratingly for many people, the organisers have not put out any official statement about the situation, and they are unable to say if the event will take place. While it is slightly annoying for me, as someone who lives in London and can just go and swim in another open water venue if Swim Serpentine is cancelled, for many people who don't live in London, there is more at stake. Many people will be travelling in from other parts of the country and will have booked travel and accommodation. They stand to lose a lot of money if they are only informed of the cancellation at a couple of days' notice.

I guess these things are beyond the control of the organisers, and it must be a real challenge for them too. In fact the last couple of years have been a challenge. The 2020 event was cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic; 2021 also had an issue with blue-green algae. Thankfully, that went ahead when the lake was declared bacteria free on the Tuesday before the event. Sadly, due to the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which involved the use of the Royal Parks, Swim Serpentine was cancelled. And now here we are once again, in limbo. 

I can only keep my fingers crossed that the event can go ahead.

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