As we approach that time, that moment when we are allowed to return to our ‘happy place’ a total cacophony of emotions begins to run through my mind, my body, my soul.
Is it happiness? Is it worry? Is it a thought of knowing about how much I have missed being in the water and forgotten what it feels like?
For me, I think it is a culmination of all of the above rolled in to one. I think deep inside there will be more questions than answers that go through my mind as I walk towards the water knowing that the trepidation is about to come to an end.
I return to the garage to collect all of my kit that has been hanging there, just waiting for the right time to be folded into the bag ready to be returned to its prodigal home; the open water.
The wetsuit is in; the neoprene socks, gloves and hat are all loaded to prevent an early onset of Cold Water Shock. The hat and goggles are dusted off and I’ve chosen the mirrored lenses as the sun has got his hat on!
I’ve parked up and the butterflies are beginning to set in as a thousand thoughts begin to cross my mind, I’m also conscious around what other people might have to say, as we are all aware, we live in a massive blame culture centred around people not knowing what we can or can’t do, or people believing that they know more than they actually do. I always make a point of ensuring that I am allowed to swim in certain places, I always seek the relevant authority to ensure that I am not in the wrong.
As I’m walking down to the river, I see the glistening sheen of the water – it looks so inviting! The sun is shining and I’m feeling increasingly more eager to get in the water.
I dive in (well step slowly)! That instant feeling of comfort of the enveloping water is a little overwhelming but exciting. All of these positive emotions come running back through my body and mind as a reminder of why I love doing what I do.
As this is the first time in a long time, I spend an extra amount of time to acclimatise myself to the water, making sure I am understanding how my body is feeling in the cooler water, listening to what my body is telling me about how it is feeling with the conditions.
Tentatively, I take my first few strokes as breastroke, ensuring that my arms and legs can still actually work as I start to move along the river slowly. Breastroke develops into front crawl, where the full exposure of the cold water on my face is evident – I LOVE IT! Slowly I begin to plod along the river, taking one stroke at a time. I’m feeling more and more relaxed as the stroke count increases, I’m away!
The two worlds of water and air are united and happiness is once more resumed in my mind.
That feeling of having a hug from an old friend (all be it a very cold friend) is undeniably soothing and extremely difficult to put in to words.
I appreciate that under the current Pandemic climate, people are beginning to have their own thoughts, feelings and opinions around whether or not we should be swimming at the minute. I for one believe that it’s not the right time for people to be dipping their toes into something new, especially without consulting the advice of a qualified coach or without knowing what the venue is like, entry and exit points and many many more things to consider. For the time being, I will be staying away from coaching as there are too many uncertain variables to contend with around writing a completely stringent risk assessment for coaching.
Please continue to stay safe, especially in this setting – save lives!
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May 16, 2020 at 3:19 pm
This is brilliant, the words you’ve used sum everything up for me and I’m new to open water . My first dip yesterday was exhilarating, I could feel my aches disappear and my whole demeanour and outlook change . I feel hopeful that my mental health will now start to improve as well as my physical health and confidence. As I entered the water I shouted I’m back and I love it . What more can I say xx
May 16, 2020 at 3:44 pm
This is amazing to read Angela, I’m positive that the open water will start having an impact on your all round well-being