Wild Swimming – Day 25
As I hadn’t swum in the sea for years, I decided to get in a little practise the weekend before my wild swim challenge, so I trooped the family down to Hemmick Beach on the South Coast. I had my usual struggle with the wetsuit. Having already identified it as my nemesis, each tussle is pitched in my mind as mortal combat – good against evil, rubber versus blubber. My eldest shattered this illusion by nonchalantly remarking “Mum, it just doesn’t fit you anymore.”
Feeling deflated, I wobbled into the sea as the kids opted to play on the beach. This winter wetsuit was very buoyant and as the kids walked, I swam in the same direction but it soon became evident that I wasn’t actually going anywhere. I tried the breaststroke with front crawl kicks and then opted for full on doggy paddle then onto backstroke. By the time I caught up with the family in the next cove, they had climbed rocks, built sandcastles and set up camp.
That was it, the final straw; the wetsuit had to go! It had been cramping my style for too many challenges now – maybe that’s why I was so bad at Stand Up Paddle? So for the swim with the Cornwall and Devon Wild Swim Club at Porthpean, I was newly togged up in a summer wetsuit, which wasn’t as judgemental and clingy as its predecessor.
I went along with Lin, a family friend, and her friend Oriel, who are part of the group.
The sea looked absolutely stunning – apparently the warmest it has been in a decade. There were about a dozen swimmers and Lin assured me that she was a “pootler” not a full on fast swimmer (the difference seems to be whether you were a front crawler or a breaststroker). The water was certainly bracing but after a count of three, I held my breath and launched myself into the water. The non-pootlers were off in a flash and Lin and I took a gentle pace, as I tried to coordinate my doggy/crawl/running on the spot action.
I was worried I would slow her down, but she assured me that people at the club went at varying paces and she swam for the noticeable health benefits she had experienced. I have to say, some things feel like exercise and some things are exercise disguised as play. I am definitely of the persuasion that you should get active whilst having fun. It makes you more likely to get out and do something and if you have kids, it is something which you can share. Plus, of course, the fact if you live by the sea (and it is clean), it’s free.
However, there are definite benefits of finding a club to swim with: the safety in numbers adage certainly applies but you also have the social side as well (after the swim, there was cake and hot Ribena). As we made our way to the destination rock, then headed back, as the speedier group went on further. The sun was shining, the water was clear and glistening and I felt really blessed. Sounds very corny, but I am guilty of thinking of a million things at once and always juggling life. This challenge is certainly teaching me to take time out, to look and wonder and to appreciate.
When we got close to shore, Lin went off to practise her front crawl. I lay on my back, and shut my eyes, taking in the full sensory moment and as I lay there in a fully tranquil state, I pondered what the protocol was about wee-ing in the sea with a wetsuit on…I didn’t.
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