Sensational Swimming – A Secret Underwater Dawn
The days maybe getting shorter and summer maybe coming to an end, but we’ve had a sensational few days of open water swimming here in Aberystwyth. There has been no rain for a while and no wind either so the sea is super clear with amazing visibility. Although, starting the swim in moonlight means that not much can be seen to start with as it is still virtually dark as we set off for our swim from South Beach in Aberystwyth. The yellow lights that line Aberystwyth’s prom guide us as we head north around Castle Point whilst dawn breaks behind the majestic war memorial, castle walls and the imposing turrets of the Old College. The moon reflects off the lightly rippled water and stars and the bright light of Venus shine in the sky to the East.
As we make our way towards Castle Point, the gradually improving morning light allows us to sea the seaweed encrusted rocks and sand ripples beneath us as we glide over them giving us a sense of flying over an alien landscape. Now and then a bright white algae covered rock punctuates the deep greens and reds of the seaweed and fish dart about here and there in the gulleys. The initially cold water feels warmer a little further from the beach and our exposed faces, hands and feet get accustomed to the cold. I stop to wait for the others next to the buoys that mark lobster pots and float there in complete silence, a single being in a huge sea, all alone for a few seconds.
We then continue our swim northwards, sometimes following the rocks to watch the world below us, other times swimming over expanses of relatively lifeless sand. On occasion we see crabs, lobsters and maybe a seal. Even the splash or fin of a dolphin. The dolphins have only been seen in the distance recently but earlier in the year they came right up to us, investigating these strange creatures in their world. The white headlights of a car catch our attention as it rounds the point below the war memorial and drives along the seafront – lights from another world as people on land start to wake up. We can now see the tall multi-coloured Victorian terraces that run the length of North Beach. Terraces full of sleepers, pressing the snooze button just one more time unaware of the show going on behind their houses as the sky lightens, going from deep dark blues through reds, pinks, oranges, yellows and finally light sky blue. The sun itself has yet to make an appearance but it’s presence is clear.
We swim all the way to the beach below the steep cliffs of Consti and pause for a while before heading back towards bath Rocks where all swimming effort is forgotten. The deep gulleys here house some large shoals of fish and some big fish too. Sometimes we forget to breath as we are captivated by the ever changing world below us. Seaweed fronds sway in the gentle currents, fish dart here and there and deep gulleys entice us in as we dive down to explore, swimming through narrow chasms lined with life. Eventually it has to come to an end though – the real world, work, deadlines and things to do beckon so we make our way to the beach and walk back along the quiet prom watching the cormorants perch and display on the jagged exposed rocks. Back at our cars the sun finally makes an appearance from behind the end of the terraces and the world around us starts to wake up. It’s still only 8am so very few people are out and about as we get changed out of our rubber wetsuits and into proper clothes to once again join everyone else in the inevitable hum-drum world of everyday life. It can’t be helped but at least we have the smug feeling of having experienced a secret underwater dawn whilst everyone else wasted another hour in bed.
What a way to start the day.