Like many others across the country I took to the water almost everyday this winter. Although I have always been a wild swimmer, my interest usually begins to dwindle around the end of October and I wait eagerly for my daughter’s birthday in mid April to tempt me back into the water. Swimming through the colder months has provided something to look forward to every day, from stormy encounters to late night dark dips. Friendships have flourished in cool temperatures as we have adapted to find new ways to be together in and on the water.
As a swimming family, we have enjoyed taking the plunge in rivers, under waterfalls, the sea and lochs over the years. We have devoted whole days to walking for miles in search of special locations; the ones that leave their inky light in memory and make you smile all over to recollect. With a winter spent close to home, we turned out to sea and arranged our days around tides rather than times.
Growing up, swimming was a big part of my life. From rainy days in deep Welsh pools to endless salty swims along the Cornish coast; wherever there was an opportunity we took it. With a picnic prepared, we headed off to wash everything away within the water. Having spent her teenage years the 1940’s and 50’s cycling, wild swimming and walking in the Lake District, my Mum encouraged us to make friends with water, and appreciate the joy of getting wet and salty. Like the spring of any experience, this prepared me well for winter and over the course of the last four months I have looked forward to the promise of brighter days, without rushing away from the winter waves.
There are days when I feel that I could keep swimming forever out to sea and others that require more effort. Continuing through the cold season has changed my perspective, making me realise that stormy encounters can deliver the most energising swims, rain can feel warm over cold bare skin, and that winter can be thoroughly enjoyed in cold water when combined with a warm hat and great company. It feels that I have come to know my friend the water much better and this relationship is richer for our winter together.