School closed, exams gone, no future certainty and a wave of lockdowns sweeping through Europe: I was feeling depressed. Wallowing around in a state of self-pity (unsurprisingly) did nothing to help. Like many others my age, I felt betrayed that everything we had been working towards, and looking forward to, had been taken away in the space of an hour.
I thought long and hard about what I could do with myself. I lost sleep (not that I really needed it), pondering constantly about how best to deal with the lockdown. Some long-term project had to be undertaken to prevent the onset of insanity; something that would take my mind off the doom and gloom exacerbated by the media.
I began whittling down my options. Ideas ranging from painting to musical composition quickly fell away and I found myself left with sport. With no idea what the final goal was, training began. I turned instantly to the two sports the whole nation had discovered simultaneously: running and cycling. However, like most of the nation, I became a ‘one weekend Wiggins.’ The bike idea fell away, and running was the only thing left.
The swimming emerged as an idea in late March. I have always enjoyed swimming and used to compete at a very low level. We are fortunate enough to own a natural pool - a 15m freezing pond looked after by nature – which has always been a source of enjoyment, albeit cold and ephemeral.
The training, after turning a corner, became rather intense. Weekdays involved a six-mile run in the morning, followed by a two-hour swim in the afternoon. At the weekends, two four-hour swims took place. Accompanying all of this was a lot of research (but still no goal in mind). I started investigating wetsuits, nutrition, swimming challenges, hypothermia and plenty more, ultimately gaining a lot of knowledge in an area I'd known little about. The challenge of the Channel was an arbitrary decision. Before I fully knew what I was getting into, I was fixated on the idea. "It’s possible, but horrific," said a friend (far better at swimming than me). "Far more people have climbed Everest," echoed my Div don, Mr Rattray, who has been a source of great wisdom throughout, via our regular Skype calls.
Nonetheless, the big day is approaching. I still feel terrified. On Sunday 31st May I will be doing the 21 miles of non-stop swimming (2,318 lengths) taking approximately 12-13 hours. The charity I have chosen to do this for is St Giles Hospice, Lichfield, who looked after my grandfather over the summer of 2019. The support I have received so far has been phenomenal, and I would like to thank everybody donating. If you would like to contribute, the link below contains more information about St Giles Hospice and what their work means to me.
26th May 2020
Deeply missing Winchester, Rtvik reflects on his favourite things about the summer term, from BBQs to swimming in the river.
20th May 2020
It would have been his last term at Winchester so Zefaan is understandably nostalgic about the things he will miss this Cloister Time. His choice of 'Leavers Photo', outside Chantry with his Div don and class illustrates the impact on pupils of this unique approach to learning and exploration.
18th May 2020
Charlie has been making the most of the weather and local countryside to run for charity and can't wait for the end of lockdown.
18th May 2020
The traditional programme of inter-school sporting fixtures has been a feature of life at Winchester for more than 150 years. With no opportunity during lockdown to face familiar opponents, Mark Burley, Director of Sport provides an insight into the history of sport in public schools, as well as the role that Winchester has played in making it such a prominent part of school life.
13th May 2020
A keen classics scholar, Tom draws comparisons with pandemics in history to inform his response to the current situation.
11th May 2020
Writing from Lagos, Arjun is using his extra spare time to fine tune his language skills and be more sociable, albeit virtually.