They all appeared for the morning swim in nylon pants with anoraks, ponchos or hiking cape. Very colourful. After the showers we did some stretching in the pool and then swam several lengths just for fun.
"Hey, these rain clothes feel really soft in the water," said Pascal.
"Yes, that's why we suggested them for this morning swim," explained Giovanni. "They cause a good amount of drag for swim training, but dry quickly, so you can wear them often."
"Shall we wear rain clothes in the mud?" Robin asked.
"Better not," explained Giovanni. "You are meant to get really wet and dirty, and have som serious fun in the mud. Baggy hoodies and jogging pants work best. Wear a couple of long shirts underneath."
"Sounds like a fun event," said Pascal.
"I brought some old oversized jogging suits for getting soaked in the mud."
Very popular was this really dirty event, full of slimy mud and water. We took our teams over the muddy assault course. For safety reasons, to avoid cuts and bruises, everybody had to be fully clothed for this game. We were told to dress in a long sleeve shirt, with long tops and bottoms, like hoodie and jogging pants, and robust socks and shoes that stay put in all the action.
Everybody starting with this obstacle course was sprayed with the hose pipe, just to get their clothes wet. That way they were not so shy near the wet obstacles.
First we crossed a rope bridge near Joey and his water pipe.
Some guys showed up in jeans and shirt only.
They were promptly hosed down from top to bottom,
issued with mud brown hoodies, and then hosed down again.
We team leaders had to go over each obstacle first, followed by our teams. That caused great amusement among them. They loved the sight of their team leaders getting into a wet mess. Being good sports we obliged.
The first obstacle was the metal beam across a mud pit. That gave everyone the chance to get wet and muddy right from the start, which many did.
My first task was to show them how to get across. What I didn't know was that near the end they've put soap on the bar to make it very slippery. Sure enough I lost hold and fell right into the deep part of the mud pit. My team cheered with delight as I climbed out, slimy mud dripping off my hoodie and jogging pants.
The first student climbed across, balancing on top of the beam. Half way through he slipped and disappeared in the mud. When he resurfaced we could just about see a big smile on his mud covered face.
I asked him if he had done anything like this before. "No, this is the first time," he replied, "but is is fantastic fun. I often wear clothes in the water, but this mud is all different."
All but one team member fell in.
We then grabbed the dry guy and took him right into the middle of the pit, making sure he was in neck deep.
Then we filled up his hood with mud and put it up.
He was laughing his head off, mud streaming down his face.
One of the more exciting obstacles was the muddy ditch. We had to walk through a water-filled ditch and help each other climb through truck tires that were suspended above. The recommended method was to climb through head first, roll forward and land back in the ditch.
In our soaking wet heavy clothes that was quite a challenge. Wading through waist deep water with a muddy bottom was hard. We often fell in, so our clothes were soaked to the max. Then we had to lift ourselves out and get through the ring. It all worked out well with a bit of help from each other.
The ditch led into a muddy pond where we could relax a moment.
My team felt it was the right time to really splash about and wrestle each other into the mud.
Next we went into the mud pit with the net on top. Joey was spraying it with a water hose to make sure it was slippery enough to get through.
As it was our turn now I had to go in first. Being a staff member I got hosed down real good. "You're too muddy for my nice obstacle!" shouted Joey as he hosed me down.
Dripping wet I got down on my knees and crawled into the mud pit underneath the net. "Ey, you're getting dirty again," shouted Joey and blasted me with more water. I felt liquid mud seeping into my clothes.
Eventually I got through and sat down on the grass, covered in thick mud. I watched my team get through one by one. They huddled close around me, waiting for all to pass this obstacle.
Joey gave everybody a good hose down.
"Don't you dare get my lake dirty!" he shouted like a drill sergeant.
The lake was the final part were we all went for a swim to get most of the mud out of our clothes.
Finally we've rinsed all the dirt off one more time in the pool showers.
Once only clean water ran out of our clothes were we allowed into the pool.
All that muddy action left us a bit exhausted, so we were looking forward to chill out by the pool in the evening. We expected that to be a dry event after wearing wet clothes all day long.
Andy and James chose jeans and hoodies again, with polo shirts underneath. I dressed in a long sleeve white tee-shirt, beige cargo pants, white socks and sports shoes. Giovanni wore black jeans and a black tee-shirt with his white socks and tennis shoes. I noticed that he also carried a yellow nylon anorak in a little pouch around his waist.
As we entered the pool hall the college students were already engaged in wild water fights, so it wasn't the quiet night we had expected.
Since I was still dry I decided to watch the mayhem from a distance. I climbed into a boat at the shallow end to relax, slowly drifting towards deeper water.
Suddenly my boat moved and a couple of students (Ooli and Karim) from my team popped up and asked if they may climb in. I agreed and they scrambled in, their wet hoodies dripping all over my dry trousers.
Karim said: "Oh, sorry, you're still dry. We can soon change that. Are you ready to get wet?" Did I have a choice?
They hopped back in and slowly tipped the boat over,
enjoying every bit as I slowly slipped into the water.
Getting wet like this in my nice party clothes was a very pleasant experience.
We all climbed back into the boat and splashed around for some time.
After a while I got a bit cold and went to the drying room to change into dry clothes. My hooded tracksuit and thermals were already dry, so I swiftly changed into those clothes and picked a hooded nylon overall to wear on top.
The evening went on and we relaxed with our teams in the shallow end. I sat down on the edge, just dangling my feet in the water.
"We always swim in clothes at home," said Lee, an Asian student, "so I enjoy this centre very much."
"Do you often swim in clothes?" asked another, looking at me.
"Yes," I replied, "I usually do. It adds interest and variety to my swim training." They all laughed and splashed me.
"Why did you change into dry clothes a while ago?" one student asked. I said that I got a bit cold in the thin clothes I was wearing. They looked at each other with a wicked grin and asked: "Can we get you wet again, take you back into the water?"
I quietly nodded, wondering what they had in mind. Linda asked me to put up the hood of my hoodie. Then she checked that it was fitting properly and tied the hood very close.
They lifted me from the pool side and carried me above the water to the middle of the pool, where the water was about chest deep. Then they lowered me very slowly into the water, holding me horizontally, face up.
The water slowly seeped into my nylon suit at the legs, the waist and arms. I could feel how my tracksuit and thermal underwear slowly got wet. There was a lovely tingling sensation as the air bubbles moved up between my skin and my clothes. The water filled my hood as they lowered my head. They held me like this for few moments, then let go and I floated onto my feet. That was an amazing experience.
"Did you enjoy that?" Linda asked.
"Yes, that was great. What was it?" I wanted to know.
She explained that this was a meditation bonding technique she learned in her psychology class back home in Hong Kong. It is used to build a better team spirit. If possible each team member should experience it at least once. I said that I'll check with management to weave it into the ongoing events as it doesn't take that long. My team was delighted.
We chatted a bit more until Giovanni swam over to us. He had his yellow nylon anorak on with the hood up. As he jumped onto my back, I noticed that he was also wearing thin white nylon pants over his jeans, which could be seen through the fabric.
"Did you get cold too?" I asked him.
"A little bit." he said with a smile. "It's bedtime now, let's go."
Giovanni is very touchy-feely. He's Italian, but grew up in Greece. He likes an early night. His motto is: "Good boys have to be in bed by nine, so they can be home by midnight."
It was a warm summer night as we walked in our wet clothes across the lawn to our accommodation.
We laid down in the grass for a moment, looking at the stars.
"That's the life, my friend." Giovanni mused.
"We get wet from morning to night with nice people in a beautiful setting. What more could we want?"