There are organised swims (in increasing numbers), and then there are swims that friends put on for friends. The Palmer Dart is in the latter category, a four mile swim from Totnes to Stoke Gabriel, organised every September by Olivia Palmer and her husband Stuart. This was their third event: it's just for fun, no money is involved, just an awful lot of good will. As everyone set off in what seemed to be colder and murkier water than usual, there were loud cries of CHEAT when they realised I was getting a lift halfway in the lead boat (he he) but it enabled me to get a view of a very cheeky seal who popped up during the swim and came really close to Stuart who was leading the way - so closed it touched him in fact. It kept popping up and definitely seemed interested in what was going on, but it must have got bored because after a while it disappeared. I got in at the Sharpham boathouse, and did the final two miles, where the river turns from being a slow dark serpent to a wider, saltier, faster expanse of water, where boats bob and seagulls dive. As ever, huge thanks to Olivia and Stuart for a very special swim.