Thursday, 11 June 2015

Wild Swimming ATCs

I have always had a strong affinity with water. One of my earliest memories is of falling into a (very cold!) lake fully dressed, and then dripping all the way home! My Mum quickly learned that a change of clothes was essential for me on any outings remotely close to water. And anyone who reads along here even semi regularly will know that this affinity is still as strong as ever, and has been passed on to my children. 

We love swimming in the sea and the nearby rivers. The last 2 Summers we've given ourselves a fun, wild swimming challenge - to swim wild every single day of the Summer holidays. 

In our first year, the girls weren't really of an age to give it a go fully in practice. They were keen and enjoyed lots of time in the water, but both of them needed, and wanted, very calm conditions, ideally in fairly shallow water. And of the boys, only Theo actually managed to swim every day with me (this was a little harsh on Sam - he had a nasty bug early on in the holidays so was unable to swim for a few days). At the end of the Summer I wanted to make something to give to Theo as a memento of our successful challenge, and I ended up painting a little picture of him in the water

The whole thing - the enjoyment of the swimming and the water, the challenge factor, the sense of achievement in succeeding and the picture as a celebration of it - made an impression on all the children, and last Summer, in our second year, they were all really keen to take on the challenge. The girls, particularly Maria, were still quite small obviously, so I relaxed the rules a little just for them and gave each a certain number of 'passes' which they could use whenever they wanted - but basically when water conditions weren't safe for them (also for Maria it was often more a matter of being submerged rather than properly swimming). And, after another Summer of water fun, they all achieved 'Wild Swimmer' status by the end of the holidays!

So at the end of the holidays, Venetia was very insistent that now they should all get a 'Wild Swimmer' picture to celebrate their success. Although obviously I was delighted that she wanted me to make something for them, I wasn't overly confident about painting four pictures, one of each of them. And I kind of wanted a plan for future years too, since it was clear the challenge was set to stay. But I just didn't manage to come up with anything that inspired me. I haven't forgotten about it since, and neither has Venetia! She's asked several times throughout the year when I'm going to get something done for it. 

However, after taking part in the recent Artist Trading Card swap, it occurred to me that Wild Swimming ATCs might be the answer. The children could build up a collection each year to remember those Summers into the future. So I set about making one for each of them for last year's challenge - trying to get them done before we're full into this year's challenge. 

Since I'm already very word and picture heavy in this post (perfect excuse to post lots of our beach photos from the last few weeks!), I'll just show you the girls today and hopefully do the boys tomorrow.

First up, Venetia. 

The sea is her favourite, especially if there are waves. Equally happy above and below the surface; by no means fearless, particularly if there are jellyfish about, and still a little wary of being out of her depth but usually more than confident in the water. 

Quite often we might get to the beach and she'll decide it's much too cold to swim, she doesn't want to get wet and she's not getting changed, she's just going to play on the sand and the rocks. Then she'll see the boys and I hitting the water and she just can't resist it, coming further and further in herself, usually fully or semi dressed still, until she's completely soaked through. And all of a sudden it's not cold at all.

Then we have Maria.

Maria craves calm water still, so although she loves the beach she often might prefer the river from a water point of view. She does have a favourite beach on the estuary where the sea is always calm, and she gets very excited whenever we go there. She doesn't seem to mind the cold water too much and is frequently wet through before I manage to get her clothes off and a wet suit/swimming costume on her.

She also has a deep love of mermaids, originally inspired by the Disney variety! And would basically very much like to be one herself, or if that's really not possible, then at least to make friends with one.

So, I hereby declare both girls wild swimmers for 2014. 

And as you can see they're both well in training for 2015!



  1. What awesome badges. I spent time with my friends today letting them decide on the arrangement of all the wonderful blocks that were made and sent in for them. Your blocks for Miss A are so beautiful and such a big hit; they brought tears to my friend's eyes. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart.

  2. That's such a great way to remember such a special time. It has a huge impact, but it's small enough to be stored in a keepsake box or other special place.

  3. Oh my goodness that is the coolest idea for the kids! What a collection they will build up over the years and what a memento to hold onto and pass down.
    Pretty please can I copy this but for winter sport? or in general - although first I think you might need to do a bit of a tutorial blog post as to how you make the ATC's. Pretty please :-)

  4. What a wonderful idea, both the challenge, and the trading cards. Such a special collection to carry with them to remember these wonderful summers.

    I second Aimee..tutorial please :)

    Have a wonderful weekend. xo

  5. What an awesome way to remember their wild swimming adventures. Fun photos, too.

  6. Fantastic photo's as always! What a wonderful keepsake for the children to have, and what an achievement! X


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