Quite unlike the Last Swim of 2016, the first swim of 2017 was a mass affair. More shrieking than swimming, especially from those who believe a new year’s resolution is all it takes, to get into 5 degrees as if you like it. They didn’t last. Though to be fair, some might: our Clevedon Lake and Sea Swimmers group is growing all the time, new faces popping up even through the winter and some of them stay, and surprise themselves.
The local media was there too, and plenty of umbrella’d watchers. Determined to have a proper swim, I swam off to the far end, and by the time I got back it was all over. A stiff wind and a determined drizzle had blown a lot of them straight into the pub.
On Wednesday the marine lake had dropped to 9.5 degrees. This is not an unpleasant temperature at which to swim for a while, but it still seems important to give the water a hard contemplative stare before getting in, just in case. Winter is coming…
A glorious morning, a quite ridiculous 22 degrees in the water, and I am swimming backstroke. I am not fond of backstroke and I’m not especially good at it, this is partly because I feel my eyes are altogether in the wrong place on my head for such a stroke. But Plum suggested it would be very good for me. I am persevering, and now I’ve clocked up few lengths of the marine lake I find I do not hate it as much as I expected, and almost no water goes up my nose any more. And I only occasionally hit the wall. But look out behind me, I’m coming, I’m not looking, and I’m literally putting blind faith in your ability to see me first….
I’m in Cumbria but this is not Cumbria. Catching up on some swimming moments as work has been too busy lately. This was last Tuesday in Clevedon marine lake. Don’t be misled by the blue sky and cute white puffy clouds, a vicious Arctic wind was howling onshore. This time the seagulls did not stand on the wall observing me, they surfed the gale, watching with curiosity to see if the foolish human would freeze. I wished I’d worn gloves.
The Silly Hat Swim at Clevedon Marine Lake Opening
At Clevedon Marine Lake Grand Opening
On 2nd April 2016 the Marine Lake was officially re-opened, following an extensive repair and re-vamping project. It had in fact been open since November of 2015, but few people other than our band of hardy swimmers had been using it through the winter. The Silly Hat Swim was our contribution to the general celebrations and goings-on in the lake, it was a very simple and silly idea, quite possibly because it was my idea: Hats must be made, not bought, and the hat wearers be able to swim around the pontoon in the middle of the lake and back again, whilst still wearing their hat. The pontoon is in fact quite near the deep end and the swim was probably less than 100 yards, the idea being that anyone could join in and not freeze, even those who hadn’t been swimming in the lake all winter. Prizes were awarded for exceptional hats.
And I’ve been busy ever since, which is why this drawing is rather late. This does not excuse the fact that right at the front I put a swimmer in a flatcap, which, if you’ve been paying attention to the rules, is disqualified for not having been hand made, but I just could not resist it. There I was, swimming my best most careful head-up breaststroke to keep my own hat on my head, and across my field of view swam a chap in a wetsuit, shades and a flat cap. This doesn’t happen very often. So I had to put him in even though there were many more fantastic hats than I have included.
My hat is slipping out of the frame in the bottom right hand corner: a Viking paper boat collaged into the image from the drawing that I used for the actual paper hat. More on this on my main website shortly.
And the day was glorious, the weather perfect, and much fun and silliness was had.
Suddenly we have reached that time of year when chance onlookers may express not mere surprise, but disbelief, as if this is done by some inexplicable sleight of hand, a sort of smoke-and-mirrors trick. We know better: it is done with careful practice; one does not simply get this mental overnight.
(for the record: Clevedon Marine lake and on Tuesday 17th my thermometer registered 11.9, on this day – Sunday 22nd, it registered 6.9 degrees. Yep, it’s cold now.)
Yesterday I swam in the marine lake in the morning, before Barney the Storm came in. Apparently storms shall have names now, just like hurricanes, but ‘Barney’ described as a ‘gentleman storm’ by Radio 4, lacks a certain threatening something. I had an audience, which is not uncommon. It was a brisk 11.9°C or so, and yes, fellow Clevedon swimmers, the water in there was nearly a greeny-blue, just like the sea was not!
(I still have swimming calendars – I ran out but got a few more printed – see this page on etsy or email me if you’d like more than one at a time as I am offering a discount)