Wild swimmer

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The title is a slight misnomer and I feel that perhaps I should be honest. Yet just how honest I’m not sure. I am, a typical gay clone; a niche off-shoot from the generic genus and like all good clones I have all the gear and very little of the idea. I have an under layer, long sleeve wet-suit rash guard – to the uninitiated, a long sleeve swimsuit and a wet-suit, splashed with bright colour of course.

I have rubber swim shoes to protect me from stones (and I’m guessing nibbling fish) and a bright purple, warm, dry robe towelling coat with a waterproof covering. Also, I have an inflatable float that I think attaches to my wrist or ankle but is frankly annoying on both so, to start a new fashion I’ve been trialling attaching it to my neck. I think a float closer to my mouth is a grand idea and is easier to use as a pillow when I’m taking a break from all that swimming I plan to do.

I have researched my subject thoroughly and have read Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog and very nearly joined www.outdoorswimmer.com after regularly receiving informative emails reminding me to join. I have downloaded and consult regularly the Tides Near Me app, along with the Safer Seas & Rivers Service app and, in the spirit of transparency, I check the local tides more often to walk with my dog on the beach. The safer seas pollution alerts make me question our council’s commitments to sewage outlet maintenance and frankly put me off extensively swimming in the sea.

I have joined the St Leonard’s “Blue Tits” facebook gang, a fantastic bunch of friendly and inclusive cold-water swimmers. A great name as that’s exactly what they were during and after my only swim with them, (well in the spirit of integrity, my walk into the freezing sea standing around up to my waist for a quick count of ten before turning around and pretty much running for my gorgeous dry-robe, hot water bottle and big flask of hot chocolate) and when they joined me after their longer swim.

I do keep up with their Facebook page on a regular basis so I do consider myself very in-the-know and have extensively and repeatedly read their very good advice. Although I did incorrectly read 1 second of swimming for every degree of water temperature when the advice is actually 1 minute.

Hmmmm… that title of this piece again… I still think I can technically use it! A few weeks before Christmas, my dear local friend and expert, Charlotte, took me to Wittersham for a swim in the river. I found the river bank a little slippery and OK I did (strictly speaking) fall in but did have to swim back to the bank to get back to my robe and flask. However, it was a river and in the countryside so surely, has to count as wild swimming.

Lastly my best claim to the title was a fantastic 3 time swim at https://ryewatersports.co.uk/wild-swimming/ : a fabulous and friendly family run business who have a gold standard for their water quality. It has been tested and graded by the Environment Agency guidelines as ‘Excellent’ with a great onsite café that is worth visiting for itself alone. They have Sunday morning swims 9:30 to 11:30 which I would highly recommend.

There are countless health benefits to outdoor and cold-water swimming and I definitely feel better for it myself. All I need to do now is go more often and push aside those cosy Rye brunch excuses not to.

Image Credits: Courtesy of Edenbridge Angling Society .

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1 COMMENT

  1. Well done! Getting wet in February is a brave move! I used to swim off winchelsea Beach, often with a patrolling seal, but the sewage pollution has put me off. I swapped to the pool, but that was short lived… Maybe we should have our own local ‘Bluetits’ group, I’m sure there would be plenty of interest and there’s safety in numbers.

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