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A Dip in the Salford Quays’ Docks with Uswim Openwater

Posted on April 28th, 2016

As the Digital Marketing Coordinator, Casey Li often has to immerse herself in certain parts of the Harris & Ross business and since we have partnered with Uswim Openwater, she went along to one of their events and got involved…

I made myself promise, at the beginning of the year to start saying yes more, to not think too much about the circumstances and just jump in feet first. Four months in to 2016, this turned in to a literal act.

When the opportunity to swim in the Docks at Salford Quays came up, I obviously said yes without a shadow of a hesitation; I thought ‘This’ll be great, it’ll be cold, but great! How many people do you know, have swam in the docks?’

But then my thoughts trailed off… ‘You don’t know what’s in there. It’s so dark, how can you see? Where can you stand? There are no sides for you to hold on to, there is actually nowhere to rest if you’re tired.’

It must be made clear that I am in no way a swimmer; while on holiday if a pool is in sight you can find me at the side sat comfortably with a cocktail; if I’m by the sea I will go as far as paddling and jumping the waves. I am not a swimmer, but clearly my new sense of unwavering vigour had taken over and without thinking too much about the day itself, I focussed on how ‘fulfilled’ I’d feel after.


After doing some quick research on USwim’s website and speaking to Karen Smith (Uswim’s coordinator), I soon breathed easily. New people are always welcomed at each event, you are assured that a team are constantly on hand in the water and on land to help you during your time with them. The water is well maintained and is constantly kept to a high level of cleanliness.

Turning up on the day at 8am on a Saturday morning, I soon realised there were more people than I initially thought who would enjoy dunking themselves in 10˚ water.

Harris & Ross Director, Rob Harris, High Performance Manager, Darren Roberts were at the Docks setting up for a morning of workshops, discussing swimmers’ backs and Senior Physio, Alison Bugg was there in full cheering mode, bearing coffee, which I and colleague, Gabby were more than glad to take off her hands.

There were plenty of people on hand, including of course our Harris & Ross team to give me a pep talk and gear me up for getting in to the cold water; Gabby was bouncing on her toes, not at all phased, owing to the fact that she is a professional swim teacher.

In a total contrast, I was suddenly silently building up a fluster; as pointed out by Karen, I hadn’t brought a cap, or goggles and had to quickly run into the ladies’ changing room and ask nicely if anyone had a spare swim cap. Gabby, true to her swim teacher responsibilities, had a spare pair of goggles in her bag.

Tentatively, creeping in to the water, Gabby and I audibly gasped at how cold the water was. We were taught how to breathe as we got used to the temperature of the water, which helped a lot. Slowly we paddled and treaded the water, until we had the courage to make it to the first buoy.

A lap of the docks is 400m, which is equivalent to 16 lengths of a swimming pool. Participants are able to swim as many laps as they like, but being the newbie I decided before setting foot in the water, I would do just the one and be happy with that.

As there is no respite throughout the lap, I quickly grew tired while Gabby rocketed ahead, but Alison was never far away and yelling ‘You can do it!’ which spurred me on for maybe a couple of strokes, until I flipped over on to my back and did the lazy back stroke (kicking my legs, without the use of my arms). Watching everyone speed past me, I gave in and stuck by my non-swimmer skills, taking my time in finishing the lap, almost doggy paddling my way back.

waterIn the last third of the lap, Alison pointed behind me and shouted ‘Gabby, have you just lapped Casey?!’ Yes, Gabby had lapped me, she had already swam nearly two full laps, as I was on my last legs just about nearly completing my first! Show off. Gabby sped off and I trailed behind her, as expected.

Nearly at the finish line, I crossed paths with a fellow swimmer who asked:
‘Are you going round again?’
‘No, are you kidding?!’
‘Me neither, I’ve already swam this morning in a pool’
This put me to shame, but once she had seen my face, she quickly told me her Dad takes her swimming all the time.

While drying off, even though I was shivering I felt really proud of myself. Rather than staying at home, having a lie in, I’d accomplished something and it wasn’t even lunchtime!

As an inexperienced swimmer, it was a great feeling to have swam outdoors in the Salford Quays. Gabby and I promised each other we’d be back again and she would go through swimming techniques to better prepare myself for the next event.
Next time, I aim to complete the lap without treading water or flipping over on to my back, and not forgetting to bring a swim cap and goggles!
One step at a time.

For more information on Uswim Openwater, check out their website here

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