There’s no denying the lack of light at this time of year. We’re only three days away from the winter solstice. The day with the least number of daylight hours in the whole year. I get quite down over the winter. All that dark, dampness. When there are glimmers of sun, they’re beautiful, the lowness of the sun in the sky creates the most beautiful lighting.
However, those moments are few and far between. The Short One and I’s open water routine in the summer works around our kids and work-life. We think nothing of a 5:30 swim (not something I EVER thought I’d say – I like my bed). It’s not unusual for us to sneak out for a dip after the kids have gone to bed. So, given that during winter it’s dark during our usual swim times what to we do?
We just swim in the dark! It’s been a gradual thing. We did a few dark dips last winter. Feeling risky, never straying far from the bank. This year, now we’ve got our full winter gimp outfits sorted and we feel comfortable with our body’s ability to deal with the cold we just go for it.
We regularly swim at 6am. A good 15-20 minutes of head in front crawl. If it’s a clear evening or one of us has had a rough day we’ll meet for a dip in the evening.
How do we see I hear you say? Well you’d be surprised at how much ambient light there is around. Our regular spot is on the edge of the the village so there are enough overlooking houses and the odd street lamp to provide enough light to see, roughly, where we’re going. If it’s clear the moon and stars provide ample light to swim by.
We do have a couple of tricks up our sleeve though. The first time The Short One and I swam in the dark we agreed a route and set off. I’m a slightly faster swimmer than The Short One so I kept an eye on her for a bit then ended up losing her in the dark. I turned around at our designated point and headed back to shore. I checked a couple of times but couldn’t see her anywhere. Maybe she’d got cold and headed back early?
No, I got back to our Dryrobes but she was nowhere to be seen. I waited………..and waited. I walked along the dam wall to try and spot her. Nothing. Mild panic started. Who was I going to call first? How to I explain this? The potential embarrassment of having to explain to the emergency services that we’d been swimming in winter in the dark and I’d lost her. What a pair of idiots!
Then, slowly, out of the gloom I started to see a little bit of white. It was the splash of her arms. Thank goodness! She was alive and well!
It turns out she’d started sighting off the wrong light in the distance and, well, she’s not known for her ability to swim in a straight line, so rather than swim along the wall she’d stopped and found herself right in the middle of the reservoir. Once she’d got her bearings & worked out where the beach was she headed back in.
I went home that morning, googled small waterproof lights and ordered us both one. I can’t lose her any more, I just pop my head up and look for her little green blob bobbing around as she swims.
There’s nothing quite beats swimming under the stars or by the light of a full moon. I don’t think there’s a photo anywhere that can truly do this experience justice. It’s genuinely magical! But always make sure you know where you’re going!