The open water cure

So this Sunday I thought I’d really test all this noise about the benefits of open water swimming for real. It was the morning after the night before, and I was NOT feeling like getting up and jumping in a lake, but not one to shy away from a bit of hungover science experimentation, I decided to ‘take the plunge’ (cue ‘laugh now’ cards from the audience).

On Saturday night we had been to our neighbours for a BBQ, and got so overexcited about actually interacting with other human beings that champagne corks were popped and the wine flowed. We relaxed and had a glimpse of what life was like in previous summers, when bubbles were things that toddlers played with rather than life support systems. It was wonderful, and we lost ourselves in the evening. The next morning, however, when Alexa’s anything but dulcet tones barked at me to get up for a swim, I nearly threw her out the window. I hadn’t even had the wherewithal to prepare my kit the night before – but I am a stubborn old mule, and I’d committed to meet Gail (of ‘Gail’s group’ fame – see couch to ultra blog!!) at the lake, so I peeled myself out of bed and got on with it.

In a state of remarkable clarity, I got my kit together, inhaled a pint of water, managed a cup of tea and a banana, and even remembered a towel!!! I was most proud of myself appearing lakeside only 1 minute late. ‘Kill or cure’ I said to Gail – let’s see which way it goes. Putting on a wetsuit ain’t easy at the best of times, but it’s quite comedy when you’re not fully functioning… undeterred I managed to shoehorn myself in, and discovered with great pride that I had remembered my swim hat, goggles, booties AND earplugs!! Go me!

We headed down to the lake to acclimatise – crikey it felt colder than last week… but we invited the water into our wetsuits, let it seep down the chest, arms and legs, waking up the parts that warmer waters cannot reach…and we were off. We forgot to acclimatise our faces – school girl error. Wow it was cold on the cheeks, the nose. Almost impossible to submerge the face, teeth hurting… breath shallow, nerves rising. I noticed Gail had her head up too, breath quickening – I could sense the air of anxiety particular to asthma sufferers such as she – will the rapid breath tip into something else..?? We paused, stood up where the waters shallowed, breathed slowly, acclimatised our faces, talked through safety procedures, never forgetting the vulnerability of man against nature, but knowing we could and would conquer our fears. Then off she went, head in the water, with the grace and power of a swan, and I smiled. Look at her go.

I continued round with my slow breastroke/crawl, feeling great. Some ducks popped in alongside and became my pacers for a while – in my head I looked as effortless as them on the surface whilst working away underneath. They nodded at me with a satisfied glint in their black eyes after my first lap – their work for the day was done. 3 laps later, we were done too, and I felt wonderful.

Whatever cold water swimming does to your body – wow it worked. I felt on top of the world. It was 0930 on a Sunday morning. I’d faced my fears and my folly, and swam 1200 metres round a lake. We headed back to our respective socially distanced cars, beaming and proud. We did it. I peeled off the wetsuit, rummaged into my big kit bag and then realised I perhaps hadn’t been quite as successful with my morning endeavours as I’d thought…

I’d forgotten my clothes.

Thoughts of today: clothes schmothes. They’re overrated. Towel chic is the way forward, just as long as there isn’t a sharp gust of wind.



  1. Sarah Stone
    07/07/2020 / 23:14

    Love it Em! …might look to have a go myself 😘

    • Emma
      07/07/2020 / 23:35

      Do it!! Seriously – there are so many fabulous venues around where you are. You won’t regret it! xxx

  2. Brenda
    08/07/2020 / 09:49

    It looks wonderful, but you might both be mad xxx💕

    • Emma
      08/07/2020 / 23:35

      perhaps… but it really is quite a life affirming experience. Spirituality through nature…

  3. Isobel
    08/07/2020 / 15:04

    I am inspired but do not know where to start around here, def not in the sea! However in the meantime I shall keep up my other exercise efforts that are running and circuit training in my garden. I look forward to reading more, I love your style!

    • Emma
      08/07/2020 / 23:37

      Thank you lovely. Sometimes it’s flipping scary, and cold!!! But overall really quite wonderful. I’ll keep posting… see where it takes you. Circuit training and running is great though xxx

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