Photo by Annabel Godfray, 30th December at Bonne Nuit, Air 4°, Sea 10°
I started sea swimming in September 2018 with a third-hand underwater camera and Annabel who I’ve known since I was 11. Swimming in progressively colder water was a huge psychological challenge. My head told me I was not made for this; other people might be, but not me! Going down a degree at a time, I wanted to stop, but some crazy impulse kept sending me back into the sea. I could never say no to Annabel’s message “swim today?”. Maybe it was a challenge I just had to rise to, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into cold water. But every time I swim I am happy, I am free, I float, I feel invigorated, I am present in the moment and nothing else matters.
The sea is still above 15°C, the air is getting colder, but not too cold. The sea is warm enough to stay in for a good swim and we take a jumper for after. The water is often still and clear. The light is good and I can take photos. Sometimes there is still warmth in the sun to warm us up. We sit after and chat, sometimes with a thermos, sometimes a nice coffee from a beachside café.
I love swimming in the sea in the Autumn.
The days are shorter, fewer hours to swim. The sea temperature is dropping 14, 12, 10, 8, 7°C. The air dives down to 3°C some days, 8 or 9°C others if we are lucky! Swim gloves and boots go on. Standing on a beach in a swim suit when the air is 3 degrees is ridiculous. The cold water takes longer to get used to, the swim gets shorter. Swim gloves, cold hands, the sea is churned and moving, the light is low, photos are a challenge. A Dryrobe and a thermos of hot herbal tea are essential for after. Shivering happens every time, it’s a race to dress before the shivering kicks in.
I love swimming in the sea in Winter.
Its lighter and brighter, there are more hours to swim. We feel positive. The water is still cold, but it is getting slightly warmer, 10, 12, 14. Sometimes there is warmth in the sun. We still shiver a lot afterwards and struggle to make our hands work to get warm clothes on. Dryrobe, thermos, swim gloves and boots are still a must. But it’s getting warmer and summer is coming.
I love swimming in the sea in Spring.
The sea is getting warm, 16, 17, 18. We can swim for ages. The light is fabulous, the colours are intense and some days the sea is just so crystal clear. I have a beautiful underwater photographic studio. No shivering, no thermos, just a t shirt and then maybe a second swim. But wait so many people, bbqs, ice creams, wasps, jellyfish and we can’t park. Now I am longing for winter again. But I am scared – the water will get so cold and will I be able to endure it over again?
I love swimming in the sea in Summer!
The sea is my happy place every season, any weather.