I have written a fair bit about my new hobby of swimming in the sea and how much I love the group that I have found at home. I have not brought my wetsuit away on holiday with me but I did pack my shoes and gloves, just in case. I figured that the sea off the south coast will be much warmer than our North Sea, so that my swimming costume should suffice. My husband and I swam together in the afternoon of our first day, while Joshua stood at the shore with Ruby, our cocker spaniel, looking confused – where were Mum and Dad going to? It did not help that we had to wade out quite a long way before we could get to a depth where we could swim but he stood watching and I kept waving and shouting his name to reassure him. We were not in the water for very long but it felt wonderful, and not too cold when we got out and dressed either, which is always a bonus.
When I got home, I still wanted to find a group to have a sunrise swim with – the timing would not suit my husband at all. My Aunt who lives locally, kindly put me in touch with a friend of hers who swims in the sea and she kindly found me the name and number of a lady who was going to swim the next day at 6.30am in a seaside town about 20 minutes drive from us. We made contact and I agreed to try to join her and another ‘Saltie’ the following morning.
I was wide awake early the next day, so I set off, wearing my swimming costume under my clothes, and I was at the rendez vous point before 6am. So I took Ruby for a quick beach walk then settled on the bench to wait for my swimming companions. They arrived both wearing dry robes and ready to swim. It was bracing when we entered the water but not too cold at all, given that I was just in a costume; it was notably warmer than the North Sea and flat calm, there were no waves at all. The pair of Salties then debated where to swim; one was clearly a serious swimmer and she headed off around the buoys in her goggles , while we agreed to swim to some closer rocks and back. We chatted all the way there and back, about how we discovered wild swimming. We were perhaps in the water for 15-20 minutes, but we stayed with our shoulders under and waited for our companion to complete her circuit, and the water that we had found chilly at first, now seemed balmy warm to bob about in.
Once out again, they quickly got dressed just in their dry robes and would shower and dress at home, whereas I threw a dress on and a fleece, as I planned to walk the dogs afterwards. I sat talking to one of the swimmers while she drank her hot tea and we shared lots of stories. I have to say that in my experience so far, wild sea swimming seems to attract the nicest, friendliest ladies. She was happy to welcome me, a stranger, along on her swim and I am really grateful that she did. Maybe it is because we are looking out for each other’s safety that you form a bond quickly or perhaps it is simply having a hobby in common or that many sea swimmers are looking to improve their mental and physical health, but I felt as though I made a friend yesterday and I have kept her number, so that when we return in August, I will get in touch to swim again I hope.
The dogs then got their beach walk, we had the place to ourselves in the sunshine and I was back home and in the shower by 8am, with both boys still asleep. For me, this represents the perfect way to start my day and I feel so lucky to be by the beach to make the most of it.