Keyvan’s 14k swim for Alzheimers – Update 17

Four long wide lanes, occupying only a third of the pool. Despite the crystal clear water, the lanes are so long you can’t see the other side [yes – I was wearing my prescription goggles!].

The 6:30 Cheltenham swimming squad crammed in one lane. All 30 of them. Tin of sardines, while the other 3 lanes are practically empty!

Sandford Park Lido


Standing by a large Victorian style water outlet on the side of the pool punching warm water into the lane. 24ºc.

Getting ready to set off. Rosemary, my Malmesbury pool buddy sets off. Super smooth and effortless, while I try to find my way through the much denser liquid in front of me. That’s how this whole swimming bug started for me. Following her length after length in the Malmesbury pool. She must have thought I was stalking her [no, I wasn’t!]. For me, as it turned out, was the only way to learn to swim longer and faster.

Sandford Park lido 1947

Head down, a few lengths here, a few technical drill there. The bottom of the pool is quite surreal. Relatively shallow and flat at one end, while it gently deeps and curves into the centre of the pool, as though something is sucking up the pool and all its contents down through the plughole at the far end of the pool.

Last few 400m sets, while the beeper under my cap is reminding me of the pace I should be going at….then the mind wonders off. The surreal experience of swimming in such a beautiful pool, with hanging dark clouds above us, and a brisk wind over my exposed shoulders takes me to….

Winter 1977

…Tehran in the 70’s. Horrible place. Never been back, and never will I ever go back. The only good thing about it was the skiing season running from early October through to April. Long season and only 2 hours drive for us, making that journey part of the fabric of our weekends for over seven months of the year. Come April, the temperature in the high mountains was just above freezing, while back in Tehran it was getting to high twenties. That’s when on our way home, we would drop by the very large lido outside Tehran, with skis strapped to the roof-rack and our thick winter clothes still on, make our way to the changing room, put some swimming trunks on and join the crowds in the beautiful pool. It was the perfect way to suck up every ounce of a wonderful weekend before going back to the dreaded school the next day!

If you haven’t had the chance to go to Sandford Park lido in Cheltenham, then you have missed out. Plenty of space to have fun and plenty of serious swimmers in the lanes to watch, swim with and learn from.


Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society

I am training for the Henley-on-Thames 14K swim marathon and the Dart 10K this year, while attempting to raise £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Society. You can donate toward this amazing charity via JustGiving:

I am grateful for all your support and thanks very much for reading.

Keyvan Shirnia

By Daniel Swann