Raucous swim

Thanks to Chris Lines for the photo

I read something not long ago about our wonderful language and one of the things I remember was about certain words – why is it that we say I am going to have a ‘quick shower’ and not a ‘fast shower,’ odd isn’t it. (that’s the only one I remember) So in this vein, I have decided that today’s swim was ‘raucous,’ a word not usually used to describe the sea but one that fits well with the conditions today. Yaverland was the venue for some of us and with all the groynes up to that point, it meant that the sea’s current wasn’t too bad. Groynes are meant to stop the drift of sand but they also affect the water flow. We roared at the wind and thoroughly enjoyed our ‘splash and dash.’ I have a new camera but had yet to set it up so thanks to Chris Lines for this one.

Car temp 11 degrees, Accuweather 10 degrees, real feel 1, wind W 59 km/h, gusting 70, pressure 1018. Met Office 12, real feel 7, wind WSW 35 km/h, gusting 62, pressure 1020. Channel Coastal Observatory, wave height 1.25m average, 2.05m max & sea temp 8.6 degree.

Stormy Seas and Safety – Sat 15 Feb 2020

Twelve of us had a decidedly lovely Saturday morning dip and after an entire week of no Vitamin Sea, it was a welcome break. The waves were up to 2.25m but it was about an hour after low tide, the seabed profile flat so no plunging waves and we kept within our depth. These factors are always so important particularly and as we don’t really have any inland waterways that are either swimmable or attractive here on the island. BUT we have the sea. We then repaired to a delightfully warm zoo cafe for hot drinks and plenty of hot air. Honestly, you’d think we’d not met for six months!

All Sorts – Sat 8 Feb

It always amazes me the huge variety of the cold water swimming community, it doesn’t matter who you are, what your build, age, even experience, it’s just that strange quirk of wanting to be in the water, of that buzz your body feels despite the post-swim fumbling with zips (I need a zip course if anyone knows of one) hot drinks and sand everywhere. Some swim, some chat, most of us do both, but the feeling later is one of something achieved and maybe that’s all we need. Oh and forgive the awful quality of the picture but that’s the awful camera – now defunct after only six months!

All sorts in so many ways – people, kit, weather!
Saturday 8 Feb 2020 – Yaverland

You really do ‘get what you pay for’

Last year I decided to take the plunge and buy a waterproof camera – it wasn’t expensive but the reviews weren’t bad. What a mistake! the first one took weeks to arrive despite the dates promised and it lasted three uses. then it stopped charging. After some considerable hassle it was replaced. The second one has now broken. It leaks, bits have broken off and it is SO hard to open. I am now going to look into buying a more expensive brand which will hopefully have a proper guarantee and be backed by a decent company. Recommendations are welcome

A Wet Weekend

Last weekend was a double-dipper! It seems far more than a few days since then but the week has been incredibly busy with ‘life’ taking over. Saturday we did our usual 1030 plunge in what turned out to be the best weather of the weekend. A chilly wind and plenty of goosebumps were on display, along with so much kit we could have set up shop although it might have been more like a jumble sale with a wonderful array of mismatching clothes.

Sunday, a few of us did the Dip for Ben. A Star Wars theme and an event to raise money for a memorial for this young man was so well organised and fun that we were swept up in the moment for sure. We didn’t know Ben but showing solidarity for people and helping with an excellent fund raiser was lovely. We all need help now and again as about 30 swimmers and many more onlookers proved. An honour to take part.

Thursday Dip

My ‘intention’ was to go to the gym, have a new programme set and then head home…..but I just thought I’d have a. quick look at the sea at Sandown Bay. I drove down and sat in the car for five minutes and then headed off, deciding that sans hot water for bottle and no hot drink it would be daft. I headed up Sandown high street and lo and behold, ended up back at the seafront like a lamb…etc. However, the ensuing dip was well worth the effort! Not long but refreshing and my equivalent to an ice bath after a weight session. SOOOO good! Even dressing in the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. Only ever regret something you HAVE done!

Monday Blues (from the sea)

I like Monday’s, a fresh week and new opportunities beckon, as does the sea! Post gym workout I just had to pop down and sea if it was possible and lo and behold, yes. There were waves coming in patterns (I will explain why this happens under the science section in time) but they were not large so a dip ensured. It is quite amusing watching walkers with all their warm paraphernalia as I walk in cossie towards the delicious briny. Not a long swim and there was a little ice-cream head but still, a good fifteen minutes playing in the waves and pretending I was a mermaid. the Monday Blues refer purely to the colour of my skin 😊 Since I went in at about 11am the waves have doubled in size so once again, the best of the day and time well spent. now feel energised to tackle the mountain of ‘stuff.’

Swimming and singing in the sea

Saturday mornings, 10.30, seas us swimming, currently, at Yaverland, by the sailing club. Neither of the forecasts I consulted just prior to our gathering were particularly accurate, the wind being stronger and colder but hey! We’re sea swimmers and weren’t put off. The numbers were down a little on last Saturday when the sun blazed but still there were about 17 of us including a couple of new people – well done! We swam a little, chatted more and then did a rendition of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ in tribute to Terry Jones. A quick exit after a zinging dip and then the usual battle to change, I reckon this should become an Olympic sport, one in which I would always lose. Hot water bottle under feet, then cuddled, followed by a delightful time in Sandown Zoo’s cafe, a delightfully warm venue and we enjoy adding to their coffers. (PS please forgive the quality of the photo – waterproof cameras tend to have water on the lens!)

Reluctance and Elation

Odd isn’t it, ones psyche, there’s that dichotomy of ‘should I’ when you know that the cold hands and feet, the battle to change back into warm (less cold) clothes and the fumbling fingers are all worth it yet part of your brain screams NOOOOOO as you creep towards the water. This is how it was today, five of us met at Sandown Bay, all wrapped to the nines and then gradually shed layers. Twenty minutes later we had all convinced each other that this WAS a good idea and so it proved. Not long after high tide we entered a story sea, waves pounding and a strong southerly pull meant that ‘proper swimming’ was not an option, just playing in the waves, the occasional highly dubious body surf and a swift exit into a chilly wind once cravings were satisfied, broad grins replacing doubt. Who needs a pool 😊 undefined

Why do I sea swim all year round?

I have loved the sea ever since I can remember, As a very young child we spent all our annual holidays at Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, staying in 1 Barnaloft, a ground floor flat with a balcony. We were a band of six, Me and my brother Matthew plus friends Tim, Steve, David, and Helen.  Days consisted of cossie, over the wall and straight onto the beach. the only instruction was to come back when we were hungry.  We spent our time building pointless and intricate dams amongst the rocks to hold back the sea, swimming and playing in the waves until blue with cold. We flew kits for hours lying on our backs on The Island seeing how high and long they would fly, idyllic times, always sunny, always fun.

Since then I have swum in many places as often as I could. From the age of about six to thirteen, we were lucky enough to be members of a private lake called Kingmere in Wokingham Without. A man-made beach, a pontoon with a slide in the water and three islands to explore were heaven. We swam, canoed, sailed a small Mirror dinghy owned by some friends and swam..and swam…fished and camped, like a mini Swallows and Amazons without the rivalry. this was also where I nearly drowned, diving off the pontoon I dove straight down and snapped my elbow, the excruciating pain rendering me unable to swim for several weeks.

The sea has always had a strange, almost unfathomable draw. I moved to Gosport and swam in Stokes Bay, often, on one occasion being joined by a seal who followed me back to shore, curious and effortlessly shadowing my human efforts. I walked to the beach in Falmouth during my oceanography degree daily wondering why so few people did the same.

Then I moved to the isle of Wight which has to be the most wonderful place to live if you like to sea swim. There is always somewhere to swim on the island. The wind-driven waves mean that there is usually a beach that is sheltered despite the weather. Sandown Bay, for me, is the best beach and even when it is really rough it is possible at low tide to take a dip. There might not be the opportunities to swim any distance at times but playing in the waves is an antidote, for me, to those issues in one’s life that seem, at times, overwhelming. I can go into the water feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and come out with problems changed to challenges, depression suppressed and anxieties ameliorated.

It is, for me, the best way to cleanse my soul, it is my mindfulness, laying in the water watching the sky, watching the patterns in the waves, understanding that I am such a small part of creation yet still a part of something far bigger than my own life. It helps in every way.

This blog will be an exploration of these themes, how to play safely in the water; some of the extraordinary people with whom I swim; the tides, conditions and beaches around the Isle of Wight; the science of cold water swimming (and let’s face it, the sea is always fairly cold); tips and hints on playing in the water as well as a myriad of other facts and science of the oceans.

I hope you enjoy reading it.