It’s still dark, but I can see the moon peering behind the trees as it sets.
As I grumble loudly about the craziness of it all, my swim buddies remind of the euphoria I’ll feel as I’m getting out.
It’s hard to connect to that as I stand freezing at the edge of the pond, plucking up the courage to take a step forward.
But I’m here. I’ve got this. I can do this. Just a few minutes. It will feel amazing.
The cold takes my breath away, numbs my limbs. I hover, knee deep in water for a few seconds as my legs scream in protest, grateful for my neoprene boots – at least my feet are not screaming in agony.
A few more steps and it’s waist deep as I squeal (well swear), and shout out “we are warriors, we can do this, it’s not cold”. Who am I kidding about it not being cold!
And then I’m off – swimming away from shore, taking deep breaths as I go, acclimatising gently.
Ah – this is it. This is why I get up before dawn and brave the snow-clad roads.
Easing into the swim gently, noticing how slowly I go in these temperatures, swimming less than 30 metres before heading back to shore. Knowing that hypothermia is real, and that my core temperature will continue to drop after I get out.
My first winter swimming, and I’m starting to see why it’s taken the UK by storm these past few years.
As I get out of the pond, I feel amazing; invigorated, vibrant, alive.
I’ve never really tested my physical limitations before. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be participating in an extreme sport at the age of 51 I’d have laughed. I remember school cross country and PE lessons – and decided sport was not my thing.
Yet I’ve always loved swimming – it was the one sport (along with walking) that would bring me back home to myself. I could be grumpy and fed up and all that would wash away as I glided through the water.
Such a blessing to have found not only a local pond perfect for swimming, but a group of encouraging swim buddies. There is no way I’d have made my way to that pond as the weather turned colder – without having committed to others that I’d see them there – and who were relying on me to swim.
Is there something that you fancy doing but are nervous about trying? Something you’ve been telling yourself you’d do “one day”? Reach out to a buddy or see if there’s a local group you could join. If you want to do it – there will be others who want to too. Get the ball rolling by initiating a conversation. Magic awaits when you do.