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    The International Naturist Swimming Gala

    When asked to pen something about the 2015 International Naturist Swimming Gala I did point out that it would be distinctly light on the normal level of detail associated with the reporting of sporting events – mainly because as my other half will readily testify I am frequently unaware of what is going on around me, and rarely write anything down… In fact one year I actually missed the heat I was supposed to swim in and ended up in the women’s race, which was fine actually. So here is the result: Germany won. But rumour has it that the gala is officially a qualifying event for their Olympic hopefuls which would go some way to explain their supremacy particularly in the younger age groups. The fact that Switzerland and Italy managed to find some (presumably ex Olympic) competitors to put into my particular age group reducing my own medal count to a solitary bronze is a personal tragedy that I don’t propose to dwell upon at this time…. This year, as last, we were in Mulhouse in France close to the border with Germany and Switzerland, and being in the same location as last year Team GB was able to establish a commanding position in the bar well in advance of dinner. And if there is a better preparation for a day long swimming competition than a large plate of sausages and a couple of pints of beer then I should like to see it!
    The Gala itself took place next day at a local pool that was placed mid way between walking distance and a bus ride away and after twenty minutes trying to decide whether to take a bus, and if so where the right bus stop was, most eventually decided to walk, at a pace that by that time was dictated as being brisk. Still, what better way of dissipating the beer/sausage effect of the previous evening? The Gala itself? Well yes, a bit of exercise followed by rigorous self appraisal in which the word “knackered” figured rather predominantly, another race and then lunch! And despite the time of year it was warm outside so a number of the British contingent took themselves out to soak up the rays, until the organisers were obliged to request them to desist as comments had been received from the neighbouring bus terminus. Alsatian bus drivers are not tuned in to the Naturist psyche, it would appear. So back to the pool for the last few races and after the last (yes, probably German) name had been called to the podium it was back to the hotel and off to the Gala dinner, which was, as always, excellent. And once again team GB trounced the opposition in wine foraging from adjacent tables. I say foraging because it sounds so much better than stealing, but to be fair if you go to the trouble of identifying all the tables occupied by teenage competitors who can’t drink it anyway then it is really only re-cycling. Next day we did the Train Museum having seen the magnificent Schlumpf Collection of Bugattis the previous year and it was, for me at any rate, brilliant. And the female contingent enjoyed it as well so hats off to the French for making trains interesting to everybody! So, I hear you ask, do I want to get involved with this international swimming malarkey? Well if you can swim two lengths without drowning you are in with a chance! First you have to go to the National Competition, which this year is in Leicester (see Big Days Out – Ed) after which you are eligible for inclusion in the international team. If selected you have to find the cost of the airfare and accommodation for the weekend but all organised meals and entertainment at the host venue are covered; plus of course you have the company of your fellow team members which is er… priceless – probably. And this year the venue is an elegant Italian spa hotel to which a visit to Venice can easily be tacked on to either end of the weekend….. so if that is not enough to tempt you, I seriously cannot imagine what would! And of course Team GB like any team needs new members all the time , so if you are a regular recreational swimmer and fancy giving it a try please come along. Your Country Needs YOU !!Can you imagine being selected to represent your country? Not many people can say they have been… could it be you?

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