I have been running a lot lately with very little cycling or swimming training. This has been very purposeful; the main reason being that I want to increase my overall fitness first and also that running has always been my weakest sport. Although lately I have been feeling much more confident whilst running and am feeling stronger. Time then to mix things up a little bit.
Despite the searing cold and strong winter tides I made the decision to dive back into swimming over the last couple of weeks. During the summer months I used to get out on the odd Tuesday or Thursday evening with a great group in Tynemouth. Now they are still a great group but due to family commitments I cannot meet up and swim with them. So instead I mainly have to fit in lunchtime solo swims during the week. They are shorter than I would like as I rush away from and then back to the office but they are necessary.
I have been asked why I don’t go to the pool. I’ve got to say that I find it fairly monotonous in the pool, lap after lap of the same 25 metre stretch. It’s similar to how I feel about treadmills! Sea swimming is awesome! Take yesterday for example. The sea was rough and cold and I had an opportunity to go out for about 40 minutes. I chose to swim in the fairly sheltered Cullercoats Bay which was still choppy but it was manageable and I knew I would feel safer as I would be more visible.
I reckon the sea temperature was about 8 degrees and swimming across the mouth of the bay meant I was slapped about the face a few times by some fast paced waves which I also managed to drink a lot of. There was a strong current in part of the bay along by one of the piers which meant I had to really pull through my stroke. When I got out I couldn’t feel my hands and feet and walking across gravel felt like walking on glass. It took me a while to warm up and about an hour to regain the warmth in my feet. But that’s just part of the fun. That’s why I choose sea over pool. You have to work harder, you have to really have you wits about you and it’s highly changeable. The backdrop is far nicer and often more dramatic and you can’t always see the bottom. Every swim is an adventure!
If you have never been swimming in the sea then you really must. It is exhilarating. It gets your heart racing and the first time you swim into seaweed or a piece of wood you will sh*t yourself! You will also become addicted so beware! I’m not advocating solo swimming in poor conditions unless you are a strong and confident swimmer. If you do go alone, no matter the conditions always make sure that someone knows you are going. My lovely, caring wife demands, quite rightly that I message her when I’m going swimming and again when I get out.
You will also need a wetsuit, goggles and a colourful swim cap so you can be spotted easily. Lastly, and especially in the winter you will need to make sure you have a full bladder when you go swimming. Here’s why.
You can get everything you need (except the full bladder) from Sports Aquatic click to visit the on-line UK Specialist Swimming Retailer
- Dover (missadventureswim.wordpress.com)
- Open Water Swim Advice for Beginners (iowatribob.com)
- Adventures in open water swimming #4: Of wetsuits and jellyfish (fitandfeminist.wordpress.com)
- Cold turkey: top 10 Christmas swims in the UK (theguardian.com)