Sunday, 25 December 2011

Bbbbbouncy Burgh

Christmas Eve. A Santa swim at Burgh Island. Ssswwwwell - and how. We set off, a motley crew of Santa-clad swimmers, into the surf that was roaring to the west of the island. A strong south westerly wind pushed into our bodies and faces, rolling huge walls of water at us. Every so often I got a massive mouthful and I can still taste the salt as I write. As we approached the first corner, and were bumped and bounced about in the most undignified manner, it was time to decide whether to push on or turn back. I was in two minds, given the roughness of the sea, but got caught up in the moment and decided to keep going. At the back of the island I had a moment of fear, as I got separated from the others, and started to feel tired. It just felt as though I wasn't going anywhere. I kept going and eventually pushed through it. Yet, even at that moment, I was also glorying in the sheer solitude in the water out there, in the beauty of the wild rocks and sea, and in that sense of being truly alone in the elements. The final part of the swim was much easier, as the wind was in our favour, and we got regular welcome pushes from the big waves - in the right direction this time. On the way back we stopped for a dip in the Mermaid Pool. What perfect peace, an infinity pool after after the angry sea.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Moonlight and mince pies

As full moon night approached I scanned the skies anxiously, hoping for a clear night. Dartmoor under a full moon is like another planet. Unfortunately there was a quilt of clouds, so we couldn't see the moon in all its glory, but the Moor was lit up by soft ambient light. I would like to say we slipped into the water in silence, appreciating the still beauty of the night but the reality was a series of blood curdling screams as the various swimmers in the party came into contact with the lake. Once in though, we calmed down. Moving through the oily blackness, the sound of every ripple was magnified; when you lose all colour, the noise around you comes to the fore. With everything in shades of monochrome, it was like being in a black and white film.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

To the bridge

Having a destination when you're swimming makes all the difference; the swim becomes an adventure. You can't get more dramatic than London Bridge in Torquay. A natural arch, it just beckons you like a wicked mermaid. We swam through petrol blue sea, occasionally diving down and looking at the pink and white rocks below. What a sense of majestic arrival when we reached the arch. And then, around the corner from there, past gorgeous barnacle-encrusted rocks, dotted with tiny pearly-white winkles, we found the most magical cave. As the swell pushed in and out, we rocked giddily up and down, excited and a little hysterical, inside the womb-like space. Thanks to Jonathan and Lynne for filming it; you can see a video here.