Sarah and I met for the first time on a boat that was taking us and about 100 others out onto Lake Windermere for a champagne cruise to celebrate the last night of a successful Learnfest. It was late afternoon, the sun was still warm and the lake glistened and lapped lazily around the boat.
Looking out over the lake Sarah pointed to a buoy bobbing in the water.
“I swam to that buoy from Impact's boat house this morning!" she announced.
“Brilliant” I said “ Nothing like a lake swim to get the blood moving in the morning” I went on breezily.
Then I noticed Sarah was crying, softly, gentle tears rolling down her cheeks as she reached for a tissue.
“Oh, I am sorry” I said, “are you ok?”
Sarah wiped her eyes and said she was sorry. I told her it was fine.
“Why are you crying?” I asked.
“Oh, I am just being silly” she said. I asked her to explain.
“I used to swim a lot as a little girl” she said “ and I was really really good at it. I enjoyed the sense of freedom and the physical thrill of powering through the water. But as I grew older I put on a bit of weight and somehow became too self-conscious to get into a swimming costume again and I stopped swimming altogether. But I signed up for a swim in the lake yesterday on a whim really. I tried to back out this morning but your team were really encouraging and supportive. So I pulled on a wetsuit for the first time ever and swam out..”
Sarah’s voice broke a little and she smiled apologetically.
“I absolutely loved it. Just as I always did. It made me feel so differently, like finding a lost part of myself. It made me realise how some of my unconscious fears have stopped me from being who I am, the real me.”
Her eyes were shining for the rest of the trip as she told me more about the positive things she was going to do when she returned home and got back to the office.