I can’t deny that swimming outside can be a bit of a leap of faith. Going from the safe confines of a pool with walls, a floor, lifeguards and warmth to a cold, large expanse of water takes a bit of getting your head around.
One of the biggest things I had to overcome when I started swimming outside was the “what if’s”. What if I get too cold? What if I can’t swim far enough? What if a monster comes and eats me? (Yes, that one’s a biggy for me). All of these are perfectly normal anxieties about doing something new. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into a new place.
I feel fortunate that I realised, from a very early stage, that I loved being in open water so much that I was willing to tackle those anxieties. Whether it’s been reading up on how to deal with cold water or re-programming my imagination to fight off that monster that starts to form in my head when I look into the dark, I’ve done it.
With winter swimming the anxieties get heightened. The questioning of “why am I doing this” kicks in even more.
Why would I strip off multiple toasty warm layers to go and freeze myself in a pond?
The Short One and I regularly have these conversations. Often before we even leave the house but definitely when we’re stood at our get in point in a cozzie, hat and goggles. Sometimes with the wind whistling past. Our conversation regularly includes “why are we here?” “whose idea was this?”.
It takes a lot of determination to be able to strip off at this time of year. Part of it’s acclimatisation and we know now that our body’s can deal with it. But a big part of it is our sheer, bloody mindedness that blocks out the tough bits so we can get on with it. We know that the after effect will be worth bearing the pain as we get in, that hefty intake of breath, that squeal or huff or curse. By talking sternly to ourselves every time we get in we’ve overcome our body’s natural urge to just run away.
The human body is amazing and that big old lump at the top of it is key to making it do some awesome things. I shall try and keep it that way for as long as I can.
Hat’s off to everyone else that plunges in the cold too, I know how hard it is. You’re all ace!