Autumn Wild Swimming; the River Cam

Monday, December 10, 2018

Cold water and dwindling sunshine; choppy seas and muddy river banks. This is swimming in autumn. I've experimented with year round swimming before, but normally I'll be in a wetsuit or it'll be just a quick plunge as part of Christmas day celebrations. This year I've left the neoprene at home and have been regularly swimming despite the falling temperatures. Surprisingly, I'm quite enjoying myself. The cold water gives you an enormous endorphin rush and swim spots that are busy in the summer are now empty.

Deserted by the river Cam.
Nature's changing room.
Admittedly, there are times when I don't want to get in; it's windy or cold, my toes are numb, I've forgotten my gloves. There are a hundred excuses for every occasion. Also, I'm not a seasoned wild swimmer, so generally my entrances in to the chilly water are far from graceful. I shriek and swear, I grit my teeth, I slip on the muddy river bank; I am the opposite of grace and zen. And if I take photos, I have to rearrange my face especially for it, to exude happiness and calm, rather than pure oh-shit-its-cold-ness. Then after a few minutes I exit the water and it's a race to put on my clothes before my hands turn in to numb claws.

Slipping in to the water whether I like it or not!

Claw hands!
But trust me, if you decide to take the plunge then you are rewarded by a rush of well being and a happy glow that lasts the rest of the day. The feel good factor can get incredibly addictive. And if that doesn't persuade you, then if nothing else it's an instant winter boredom cure. Suffering from cabin fever? Terrorised by Christmas film reruns? I know just the thing! But remember, if you do decide to give it a go, then be safe and do your research first. Click here for outdoor swimmers advice on cold water swimming. Hope to see you all wearing bobble hats and diving in to the freezing ocean very soon!

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