I’m thinking that cold water swimming is the ultimate cure to bad moods.
You know the sort of day… it feels like everything sticks, falls off or tumbles over; frustrating small things seem to be overcrowding the most menial of tasks and you’re not even sure what time you’ve agreed to go swimming (we generally change times a little to accommodate very low tides). You finally find the suggested time on WhatsApp in amongst much inane chatter and realise that you need to get your skates on. It’s now that you realise your swimming costume and towel are sat in the dryer, still damp, having been forgotten the previous day and so you rush back upstairs to find replacements. You briefly get distracted in finding a surprise piece of clothing that you thought had been eaten by the washing machine and with the momentary excitement of this revelation you lose even more time in distractions. You then get increasingly flustered as you can’t find one of your neoprene gloves… only to discover that it has been at the bottom of the bag all the time velcro’ed to a scarf you’d forgotten was loitering in there with some random intent. A quick mutter at the news presenter on the radio bearing bad news, you throw your trusty dry robe on and finally… you’re out the door. You are now grumpily trying to remind yourself that this is meant to be a) relaxing and restorative and b) good for your physical and mental health. (But who am I kidding? I really like the laughing mainly). You ask yourself how is it that you’ve forgotten to sort out yesterday’s wet kit? How can you get in such a kerfuffle? How can a routine of tasks, repeated daily for over 40 weeks, suddenly slip from the mind?!
You arrive at the beach frowning, but determined to find some joy in the beauty of a still sea and sultry grey blue clouds. It’s then that you realise you’ve packed the leaky goggles and not the good ones. (Why don’t I just throw the leaking goggles out??). OK – gloves on, tick; base layer hat on, tick; orange hat on tick… time to stumble across the pebbles to the water.
It’s cold, but not so cold that we’re too shocked by it. The smooth water is a blessing. No waves to wince at or be splashed by, just a steady glide into the salty water. There are small gasps and gentle grunts as the cold envelops our bodies but then we’re in. We’re swimming and chatting; laughing and moving. All the frustrations and anger dissipates and empties out into the surrounding sea, swallowed by the tide. The sense of liberation and freedom, especially without neoprene cladding, as the water wraps around us is the perfect antidote to feeling scratchy and irritable.
We swim further than we had anticipated and have the sense that our bodies have warmed up a little with some exercise. We have both forgotten all the little irritations we had arrived with and just for a while, we each manage to live in the moment. It’s great thing to share with a swim buddy.
We get out with the now familiar ‘Solent tan’ glow from the cold and chat as we dry off. Yes, the swim has made us calmer. It has made us forget why we were both individually grouchy and smiles have returned. As so many swimmers comment – it’s a great way to start the day.
It’s then that I realise … I’ve forgotten my woolly socks again…. but quite frankly, with a laugh, I realise that I really don’t care.