In 2013 whilst on holiday with my family in Swanage in Dorset, I happened upon an advert for a sea swim. Always having a tendency towards the impulsive, I merrily signed up – just the 500m though, not 1km. On the day, I felt really quite excited – I’m bloody terrified of sea swimming, having had a near drowning episode in my early twenties, but something compels me to constantly challenge myself (there is a theme emerging…). So, on the day in question, I donned my best M&S cossie and flip flops and made my way to the departure point. Clearly I had turned up at the wrong place as everyone else was top to toe in rubber. Seriously – neoprene everywhere, and swim hats… Swim hats???!?!!! WTF???!! I haven’t worn one of those hideous things since I was about 9 years old doing school swimming lessons. Ah the memories of the old crone shouting from the side whilst pulling a wooden pole in the water in front of you – constantly just out of your reach as your spluttering windpipe raged with chlorine burns.
Anyway, back in the moment – yes they were all tooled up as I stood there deflecting the looks which ranged from pity – ‘ah bless her, she’ll get so cold’, to indignance – ‘oh my god the integrity of this event has just gone through the floor’, to almost famous ‘they’ll interview me and I’ll say I saw her just before she drowned, I’ll pretend I spoke to her..’. But in the immortal words of Batfink, my wings are like a shield of steel, so I resolved to pretend I had turned up like that totally intentionally, because I’m so damn hard. In reality, without a wetsuit I only had my own blubber to thicken up my skin, so I shed my flip flops and joined the shuffling penguins towards the entry point.
Holy mother of God – what is this exquisite pain on my feet? Why are we entering the sea here? Why aren’t we going in at a sandy point? Why over the rocks, the knife jaggy craggy rocks, deceptively wicked shingle and slime covered stones? Why is no one else swearing?? Oh, they’ve all got bootees on. Of course they fucking have, with their smugsuits and hats, there’s a whole bloody wardrobe no one told me about. Oh well, I am nothing if not dogged, so time to get on with it. Jaws music jaws music jaws music.
Where is she? Where’s the loony? Ahhh…. Look! Look! There she is! Yay!
Once in, I actually find myself enjoying it in an absolutely terrified ‘what was I thinking’ kind of way, but I’m just so damn proud of myself for doing it, for being in the sea, out of my depth swimming, for not absolutely FREAKING OUT when some seaweed touches my leg, that I can’t stop beaming!! Until I realise that beaming is letting far too much water in, so I get a bit more serious, and then half an hour later, the steps out are in sight. Why on earth we couldn’t have gone in via the steps is beyond me, but mine is not to question why…
I think the look on my face says it all. I felt dizzy, had to be helped out, and then wrapped in a towel by my sister as my digits were not fully functional, but wow, really, the elation was something else. Who needs alcohol when you can just leap in the sea in the M&S summer collection eh?!
Thoughts of today: this was summer time – apparently jumping into freezing cold water does wonders for the body (if you can avoid going into cold water shock). Right, that sounds like a plan. Most venues don’t open until spring so I can spend some time researching over winter without actually getting cold. Marvellous!