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Laura Baner
Spring 2018

I was asked by H.O.W.S.C to write a piece for the website around the subject:  Are music and swimming linked?

The answer is; I have no idea.  However, I am a musician, and I do now love to swim, I decided I would write with what I have experienced, and  learnt over my 45 years, I hope it makes sense of a slightly tricky subject:  so with that in mind, this is what I’ve come up with..................................

I grew up in Henley, adopted into a lovely family who love sport and music.  I am fiercely competitive with myself, I have to be achieving something and I have dreadful F.O.M.O!  All of which makes for a slightly over enthusiastic, impetuous slant on life & all of which seem to be getting worse the older I get.

I’ve played the violin for over 42 years, starting when I was 2 with the Suzuki method, which bases its teaching on ear training, not introducing the written notes until the child is older.  Therefore I learnt everything by ear; I went on to train at Music College, and since then founded Henley Music School, which I continue to run.  Because I now spend the majority of my working week organising all aspects of music school, and do not perform nearly as much as I’d like, I am continually searching for that adrenaline high I used to get from performing regularly in prestigious venues.  More popular musicians tend to lean towards chemical highs, and end up in some clinic and on the front pages of the Sun.  I’m a bit old for all that nonsense, so this is my version.

In September 2014 I signed up to run the London Marathon in April 2015 and gained a charity place for Parkinson’s UK.  I had my work cut out, not having run further than a couple of kilometres up to then.  The training took over; cold, wet, miserable mornings spent plodding through thick mud, dreadful memories of that 20 miler from Henley to Marlow and back.  I just managed the marathon in 5 hours 37, did not enjoy it at all, but did raise 5k for PUK.  I came away with a back injury and struggled to run, so I started cycling.  

In August 2017 on our holiday to Scotland, Applecross Peninsular to be exact (well worth a visit – my favourite place to be), I decided I should aim to do a cycle event, and began training by cycling up the The Bealach na Ba, this climb rises to a height of 2,053ft from sea level in about four miles, and is the most spectacular pass in Scotland.  18.6km with 659 elevation gain - It was fun!  However, my back was not pleased and after the long drive home I could barely move.

I was advised not to cycle, run, or do boot camp, gym, or step classes, all of which I’d enjoyed previously,  so I did no sport for a while, and became more and more miserable with nothing to aim for so I threw myself into work & the kids.

I have always loved the river.  I swam the Club to Pub in August 2016 turning up in my holiday swimming cossie, and swimming breast stroke.  I thoroughly enjoyed it so I enquired about joining HOWSC, and did my first ever open water swim with HOWSC in March 2017.

I’ve not looked back.  I LOVE it – to date I’ve swum the Classic, joined a day-trip to Denmark & Sweden to swim in the Baltic, I’ve enjoyed night swims, swims in the snow, in a wetsuit, not in a wetsuit! And I now do front crawl.  Recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I have been told I should be swimming, which is lucky because So far for 2018 I’m signed up to do the Bridge to Bridge, Wild Wye, Henley Classic & Club to Pub.

When swimming in the river, you hear all sorts of sounds, many very musical like the sound of a boat approaching, which make the gravel swish and shimmy on the bottom.  It is proven that the autistic mind hears all sounds as if they were pieces of music.  At around 6 months of age the developmental stream of sound perception divides into three distinct functions of sound:  Everyday sounds, music and speech, the autistic brain doesn’t always do this, resulting in some non-verbal autistic children, who can’t process speech sounds, or many everyday sounds but who love music .  I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a similarity with musicians brains, but rather than it being developmental we are taught and trained to have heightened listening skills, and ear training started very early for me  – I hear many every day sounds as music, so when swimming I also hear music.

So my link with music & swimming is that they both bring me joy.  The joy of doing slightly bonkers things, the joy of meeting lovely new friends and always having something to aim for!

Thank you HOWSC!
Laura Reineke


Laura Violin Laura Running
Laura snow swim Laura night swim
Laura riverbank Young Laura violin
AS YOU'RE HERE: The HOWSC website is maintained and run by HOWSC members and relies on voluntary contribtutions.  Do you have something you'd like to share?  Maybe reflections on a recent swim, tales of adventures in far flung places, an account of your watery accomplishments? Photographs, videos, poetry, prose, art and more will all be gratefully received and published on the website for all to admire.  Contact Mark Reed to discuss or submit your contribution.  We look forward to hearing from you.
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