Open Water Swimming – The way it should be

Now that was the way open water swimming should be.

As it’s the school holidays Morgan was at home with me all day so I couldn’t swim during the day. Anna was playing in the silver band (in the bandstand on Aberystwyth Seafront) in the evening so I planned to go for a swim off North Beach in Aberystwyth whilst she was playing in the band. The weather gradually improved all day. The sun came out, the ground dried up, the temperature started rising and the wind died. The temperature actually hit a peak of around 24°C at 7:15pm – I was due to start swimming at 7:30pm – perfect.

I met Kerry who was to join me and we were soon in the water. It was gorgeous out there, really warm, the sea was calm, the beach and prom were full of people and the sun was shining. The water wasn’t very clear but that didn’t matter as it was calm, with a little bit of a swell. We swam back and forth to a buoy so ended up doing laps, but these laps were so much better than those in a pool. Kerry did a few and then got out to shower, I carried on and ended up doing a nice 2.5km swim – just what my schedule ordered.

It was when I got out that I really noticed how nice an evening it was. The sun was setting over Cardigan Bay but the temperatures were still in the low 20’s, and stayed that way all night.

The usual post-swim routine in these areas is as rapid a change out of your wetsuit as possible. Whilst huddling behind the shelter of your car you strip off and immediately get some dry layers on as quickly as you can before hypothermia takes hold. You then put on a few more layers just in case and try to find a hot beverage as soon as you can. This is usually consumed in the car with the heating on full blast and the windows steaming up.

Last night was such a contrast. I took a cool shower on the beach whilst taking my wetsuit off and rinsing it out. Stood in my shorts I hung my wetsuit over the railing to dry and stood there in the evening air gradually drying off before putting on a pair of shorts and a ‘T’-shirt – more for modesty than warmth. I then found Morgan and waited for Kerry to return from her house before ambling over to the shop for cake, coffee and ice cream. We then sat on the edge of the prom chatting, watching the sunset and people launching chinese panterns into the summer sky whilst listening to the band playing in the bandstand. Perfect, that’s what open water swimming is all about!

It did make me think back to an atrocious day in April when I virtually froze to death swimming in the same spot. It has to be said that training on that day in April was sort of enjoyable in its own masochistic way, but last nights swim was a little nicer.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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