It’s Time to Take the Plunge
It’s the same every time. I pack a towel and clean pants and skip off to the beach like I’m a mermaid who’s been trapped on land for a decade. It’s so warm today, I think because it is…in my house.
It’s always the evening when we go sea swi–, when we go to the beach. Mainly to avoid any crowds. More often than not, while driving along the front, I can see little wavelets out to sea. Hmmm, I think, recalling the Beaufort Scale. It didn’t look like this back home.
Engine off, we both sit in the car willing each other to say it first. Let’s not bother. But we can usually rely upon each other to bring the façade of enthusiasm. It’ll be great! COME ONNNN!
After numerous, agonising paddles, wading in slowly, bowing to my inner masochist, I’ve finally had the realisation that everybody eventually comes to. You’ve just got to run in. Commit. Rip off the plaster. By the time you regret it, it’s already too late.
The thing is, I’m all about the idea behind wild swimming. Roger Deakin’s Waterlog can be counted as one of my all time favourite books, lyrical and absorbing, just like the water he adored so much. I love the idea of swimming in rivers, moorland pools and, of course, the sea. I’m a trained freediver and have racked up more hours snorkelling than I could ever possibly count. But it’s almost entirely been subtropical.
It’s different, out there in the clear blue ocean, finning above coral heads and being side-eyed by sea turtles. It’s mesmerising, but it’s not the same as here. The steel grey Channel lapping at your naked thighs is the opposite of paradise.
We’ve been swimming at Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth recently, hurling ourselves in with reckless abandon, whooping, riding the adrenaline. And I’ve finally come to learn that if you want wild, if you want heart-punch exhilaration, you’ve got to embrace the discomfort. Because swimming in England is wild. Swimming in the West Indies is just a bath with pretty fish.
Written by Kitiara Pascoe