Who said outdoor swimming was a summer only activity?

Next time you are dithering on the poolside on a Saturday morning, spare a thought for Karen, Sam, Sian, Linda, Margaret and Sylvia who signed up for the Outdoor Swimming Society’s December Dip which took place last Saturday.

December swim

It seemed a good idea in June when the mornings were balmy and the dips in the Lavender Patch were very pleasant.  However jump forward six months to a very chilly December morning at the open air, UNHEATED, Parliament Hill Lido in north London and a few people were having second thoughts.

No reassurance was gained when we arrived to find the digital display showing water temperature at 3 degrees.  There is nothing like a bit of peer pressure and along with 420 other people we gradually stripped off to our cossies (plus the odd glove and bootee which were allowed).

The lifeguard, who swims there every day gave us some last minute advice – jump in if possible, breathe out long and slow (just in case we forgot!), and get dressed as soon as possible afterwards.

We let the first wave go so we could gauge the reactions of the first swimmers.  Most seemed quite exhilarated so we made our way poolside for Wave 2.  Two widths – thats all we had to do – the fact that a width is 28m made it a bit more of a challenge though.

Countdown and we were in – it is so cold that you can’t actually tell how cold you are – your skin just goes numb.  First width done then on the return you just start slowing down, even though you think you are still swimming the same rate.   Straight out – photos taken as proof – and into a warm shower and layers and layers of clothes.

Now for the science bit – apparently your body sends the warm blood out to your extremities to warm you up which is why you don’t feel the cold to start with.  The cold blood then returns to the core which is why you start to shiver five to ten minutes after you get out.  Strange sensation.

“Glass of ginger wine, coffee and mince pie all help to warm that core back up though”

December fancy dress

It was quite a long way to go to swim less than 2 minutes but if you are down that way next December its worth a try.

They also offer the Arctic Challenge which is 2 lengths (thats 60m lengths by the way).

And just in case you have any spare time there is a prize for the best dressed swimmer.  The guy who won this year only “wore” stick on scales and a scallop shell!

Go on – you know you want to!!

Sylvia (if I can do it – you can) Franklin