One of the problems with open water swimming is that it can be a bit of a pain to get in and out of the water. Correction: it’s not normally a problem to get in, but unless you’re somewhere relatively controlled like Hampstead Ponds or The Serpentine, getting out involves scrambling over sharp rocks, through glutinous mud or slippery shingle. All of which seems well worth it when you’re going in and a right pain when you’re trying to get out.
Last weekend I was lucky to stay somewhere whose front door not only opened onto a deep bit of the tidal river Yar (Isle of Wight) but which was right in front of a ladder. Although I’d actually forgotten to bring my cozzy, and there was a particularly bracing breeze, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to blow away the effects of a heavy Saturday night with a Sunday morning dip. Luckily I came up with a substitute costume (running top and pants, if you must know) and the tide was up just at the right time.
Forcing myself to (temporarily) ignore the smell of frying bacon, I climbed in and struck out. It was – as expected – bracing and – as not expected – very salty. I haven’t done much cold water swimming yet this autumn (or much swimming at all this month, thanks to bugs) so I only stayed in a few minutes, swimming up to the nearest buoy and back again, but the elation was amazing. I’d deliberately not invited witnesses so that I didn’t feel encouraged to stay in too long (and also, my improvised costume was a bit embarassing) which meant that I had to convince people I’d actually done it first before I could tell them how wonderful it felt. But that’s okay, because I’m blogging about it now, so it must be true.