Open Water Swimming
By Jenny Rice
You’d have thought that moving from London to the Lakes would have meant more swimming not less, but actually in my first year of living here, I swam less than I did as a city dwelling swimmer. The Serpentine Swimming Club played a major part in keeping me sane in London and if it wasn’t for the club I’d have managed far less time living in the Big Smoke. The actual draw was as much the people as the swimming, and that’s what I’ve initially missed these last two winters in the Lakes. With no one here to text me abuse at 7am if I decide not to go, it’s much easier to stay under the warm cosy duvet. I’d miss a planned morning at the Serps at my peril… but here, a missed morning has previously gone unnoticed.
Things seem to be turning a corner though as I head into my third Cumbrian winter and I’m excited for the months ahead. Our little group of swimmers has grown to 4; myself and my husband Paul, and friends Claire and Petra. We get the odd swimmer joining us, but the four of us have momentum and are determined to keep on swimming this winter. The last few weeks have been an absolute joy – with mild air and water temperatures and beautiful sunrises, and more recently, as the nights lengthen, we start our swims by moonlight, and when we turn at the buoy and return to the jetty, we see the sunrise sky changing colour as we swim.
This morning (Tuesday 25 October) was the first morning that was properly cold – but it was warmer in than out – at 12°C the water is tropical right now, but the air was icy and getting changed outside was a traumatic experience! I definitely miss the ‘cosy’ Serpentine changing rooms. But I’m just trying to enjoy shivering whilst looking at the autumnal woods opposite, over to the Langdales, and down to Belle Isle and the surrounding islands.
Here’s to a winter with wonderful wild women (and men!), tea, cake, shivering, penguin huddling, rain, sun, miserable mornings, misty mornings, sunny mornings, numb fingers, frozen feet, and most definitely, no bailing.