Last weekend I went to Norfolk. We drove to the beach, my brother, Georgia and I, and it was a pleasant 20 minute walk along a sandy causeway to get to the sea. So the sea did not need to be swum in for it to have been a nice outing, but it was there, and it did give the exercise a certain air of having achieved a goal. I was of course designated swimmer, and they the designated watchers. A 10 minute dip at a little under 7 degrees seemed sufficient to prove the point that the sea had indeed been swum in.
The watchers, watching the sight of a lone swimmer in the sea in February, idly wondered if they could actually be of help if I were to need assistance, and came to the conclusion that a rescue party could probably walk to me. This was true, I could touch the bottom with my hands while still swimming, and further out it was clearly getting shallower for some distance. This is a reassuring circumstance for a winter swim: there it so very much huge flat sea around Norfolk and it’s so big, especially for one used to the Bristol Channel, a short shingle beach and the handy landmark of an unmissable Victorian pier.
Approaching the water* I notice I am once more doing the arms-raised thing. This is not the impending cold water, it is July and the water’s lovely, this is my subconscious insisting on believing I actually weigh less with my arms in the air: this is my special walking-over-ouchy-shingle walk. I have been known to exit from the sea on all fours, but I hate swimming in shoes more than I hate the brief discomfort and indignity.
*To those unfamiliar with the sea at Clevedon – that is the yellow-brown waviness at my feet. It’s a colour you get used to. You may call it the Bristol Channel, but we call it the sea and are happy it’s there.
This was yesterday at Clevedon, from the Pier to the Bay, turning with the tide, and back again. It was a little bumpy in the water and here is the pier and home looming, though from my vantage point I couldn’t actually see it that well. Apologies to Colin Hill of Chillswim, I failed to do the bright orange of the tow-floats justice – Their incongruous orangeness much appreciated in water like this, not least for being able to keep an eye on your fellow swimmer as we both bobbed about a little bit cork-like!
So yesterday we swam round Burgh Island. Plum Duff was suffering from a dodgy shoulder from a 5 hour swim the day before, but still made it round. She emerged victorious and, by some sleight of hand unknown to Burgh Island virgins such as I, she had a gin and tonic in one hand as she exited the water!
(ok I admit, I lied a little: the glass was in fact a crystal tumbler. The gin, tonic and cucumber were perfectly real…)
Clevedon Pier this morning with me beneath it, just there, at the bottom. I think I may have made the waterline too low on the pier legs, but I wasn’t making notes at the time, I was ploughing through the strong current of silty salty water. When I stopped, to adjust goggles, I got swept away again. The second time I kept going, head down. A glorious 8 degrees, it’s getting warmer, I can put my face in and my fingers almost don’t hurt. Oh, hello spring, you’ve been a while coming!
Went for a bob in the sea this morning. Couldn’t really call it ‘swimming’ as it was rather like this. Though I did make it almost as far as the first buoy, apparently about 200 metres out, before I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. I am used to the lake at Clevedon, not this stuff, but it was fun!
A bob in the sea at Clevedon, with the Pier in the distance