Winter Open Water Swimming
Paul Saunders
January 19th, 2023

Winter Open Water Swimming

by Paul Saunders

Sixteen hardy souls braved the wet and windy lake on Saturday 14 January 2023, for our first Winter OWS trial session. They were all treated to crystal clear water and a balmy 6.9 degrees water temperature, safety briefing, safety cover, a lovely warm cabin with hot drinks and biscuits afterwards. Its fair to say everybody seemed to love it and were asking when the next one will be.

So, get your self logged onto the website and book in to the next cold water swim session. Do read the information on the sign up page, especially if you are new to cold water swimming.

My first cold swim… (Anon)
Twas a dark and stormy night, with rain and wind battering the window as the first signs of dawn peeked through the looming clouds and through the curtains. (“I’m staying in bed, not going out in that. Hang on,,,,,,, isn’t there something I’m supposed to be doing this morning, for the first time ever?). Up, out of bed, warm gear on. Wetsuit, towel, googles in the bag, coffee and toast, in the car, heading to the lake. (What have I forgotten, what have I forgotten? Damn, membership card”!). Back home, card safely in pocket, head to lake. The wind is easing and the rain is subsiding, the lake looks lush! (Am I really going in there?). Wetsuit on, briefing (“I know this stuff, I read all this on the sign-up page on the website, it terrified me, but also excited me, that’s why I am here”).
Struggle to get the thick warm swim cap on followed by the purple cap on top, (that way the kayakers will keep an extra eye on me, I will be just fine, I am….”) ‘THE WATER IS A LOVELY 6.9 DEGREES C’ the swim manager informed us all (“that’s it, I’m going home, I’m not getting in there). For some reason, I’m not heading home, I’m following the others – making their way round the side of the lake (it looks lovely), heading down the ramp to the dark but strangely clear silvery water. Feet are wet (“**** me that’s cold”), deeper – ankles, knees, waist. ( “Its OK, l’m fine {What the hell are you doing} you’ll be fine”). Deeper – chest, I feel the water pushing on my wetsuit, slightly compressing my chest. Arms in, shoulders, neck is wet, ice cold (or is it boiling) water trickles down my spine and then streams all around my skin, deeper into my wetsuit, chilling my very core. (“What’s that burning sensation, who punched me in the stomach, making all the air in my lungs explode out into the morning air”). Breathe, breathe, (“You’ll be fine, oh, look at her, no wetsuit, she’s off towards the first buoy, how does she do that?”). Breathe, breathe,,, breathe. (“I’m safe, I’m not out of my depth, I can stand up, I can breathe, relax, breathe, I can do this”). Face in (“Holy moses what was that”?) Breathe, breathe. Face in again, ice cream head, argggh, (“I can do this, I can do this”). Breathe, relax, breathe.


And that was it, off I went, my first ever cold-water swim. The water was so clear, cold, oh so cold, but so beautifully clear, much clearer than in the summer. I could see the bottom, a fish, another fish, a foot! (“Oh, I’ve caught someone up, look at me, go me). One lap, two laps, (“how many laps was that now”?) Look at watch, ask the lovely man on the kayak (he looks colder than I am)  “How long have I been in? ‘Twenty minutes’ he said. Right, self-check, (“how do I feel? I feel warm. Right, I read on the website that’s a sign that I should think about getting out”), finish this lap, back up the ramp, emerging like an Olympic hero, the cold water seeping out from my wetsuit leaving a strange warmth in its absence. Back to the deck, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the cabin window, (“Who is that grinning back at me like an idiot? Oh, its me, wow, I must have really enjoyed that”). Wet gear off, towel dry, dry robe and warm layers on (“where’s that lovely fella selling those warm Tri-Anglia bobble hats?, I could do with one of those”). Into Cabin 3, warm, oh so warm, coffee, biscuits, cake, (oh, my membership card, must get my card so they know I am out and safe and well”). Back to the changing room, a warm but not too warm shower (“I read that on the website too”), back for more coffee and biscuits, chatting to club members, some of whom I have never met before, sharing our stories of braving the icy cold lake.  That was one of the best feelings ever, I was buzzing all weekend when those endorphins kicked in. Right; pooter – Tri-Anglia website – log in, when’s the next one?

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