In The Swim Again

Just because something is a good idea once, that doesn’t mean that it will be the next time.

I got up this morning at seven, and no sooner was I in the kitchen than I realised that my headache was back again.

Well, swimming in the sea had helped last Thursday, so why not try it again?

Because (and I now know this by the empirical method) there is a big difference between swimming at eleven on a sunny Thursday morning and swimming at eight on a cloudy Saturday one.

There are upsides. The beach was almost deserted, apart from a couple of people walking their dogs, occasionally throwing sticks into the water for them to fetch (dogs really, really will do anything for love, including that). I was the only person swimming. At that time of the morning I was probably the only person swimming along the entire east coast.

Admittedly the swim itself was just as pleasant as it was the first time. Again I swam for a while, sat just within the water’s edge for a while, then swam again. Again I felt exhilarated as I came out.

But on Thursday last the sun warmed me as I dried myself and dressed. This time a sharp cool breeze made me shiver and played modesty-threatening games with my strategically-worn towel (I was afraid that that the sudden appearance of a bare arse might be a welcome diversion to a dog that has been forced to spend its morning retrieving sticks from cold water).

What was needed was a hot shower when I got home, but since no-one else was awake I couldn’t turn it on, so I sat wearing two t-shirts and a hoodie in front of the TV, watching as the cup of tea that I was clasping slowly turned my two index fingers from white to a normal hue.

I wasn’t shivering, I was actually shuddering, as I proved to myself when I poured my tea down my neck. I realise that there are two ways of looking at that sentence, and it is the external one that I mean.

I had turned on the TV because this, of course, is the first morning of the Olympics. I watched some rowing, some cycling and then they put on the swimming.

I scornfully watched what are supposed to be the world’s greatest exponents of this art go about their well-paid business. Some of them wore a second, rubber, skin. Even those who didn’t wore trunks that looked far better insulated than mine. They all wore little plastic tea-cosies to keep their heads warm.

None of them stubbed their toes on hard sharp stones. None of them got slapped in the face by seaweed. None of them turned their heads to breathe and swallowed an unexpected wave of salt-water. None of them fell into the hidden drop which is about ten feet into the water on Greystones beach.

Oh, and the pool was heated.


10 thoughts on “In The Swim Again

  1. elspethc

    next time take a wee flask with you – might stop the shudders as you do the shuffle back into your clothes. It can be tea or coffee… sustains the inner warrior if you should lose him… and I hope the headache is gone

  2. laughykate

    Exactly what is the water temperature at this time of year? I’m thinking it would only be marginally higher than ours just currently – and need to point out, we’re in the middle of winter.

    Hang on, I just checked, today we’re both having highs of 16.

    If that’s the case, you’re even more of a legend than I thought.

  3. Janie Jones

    We have something here Called the Polar Bear Plunge. I can’t remember exactly the month but I think it’s in January or February when crazy people go swimming in the Big Lake. They waddle out over the ice to the deeps where it never quite freezes and they jump in and are pulled right out. Usually they wear goofy costumes. Don’t ask me why they think this is fun. At least you had your swim in the summer.

    1. Tinman Post author

      My brother swims in the sea on New Year’s Day every year for charity. I’ve done it once and it really is an astonishing experience, no matter how long a shower and how many hot drinks you take afterwards your bones still feel cold at the end of the day.


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