Friday 10 January 2014

Start As You Mean To Go On

I ended the last year watching Doctor Who with The Best Friend and Beloved Godson #1, and began this year by swimming in the sea at St Mary's Lighthouse. I've had to explain a few times to people that a diver's New Year Swim is not like the ones that make the papers, where people run into the sea wearing swimsuits, and then quickly run back out again (good choice!). We were wearing every bit of neoprene we had. My kit included: swimsuit, rash vest (basically a long-sleeved t-shirt made of 1mm-thick neoprene), 5mm-thick wetsuit (mine also has a neoprene vest inside it for extra warmth), neoprene socks, 5mm neoprene dive boots, 5mm neoprene hood, 5mm neoprene gloves, 5mm neoprene wetsuit jacket over the first wetsuit, I think you get the idea.

We clambered out over the causeway and the rocks, to the amusement and bafflement of passers-by (it was bloody cold and windy that day) and jumped off a rock into the sea. It was sufficiently high that I had time to yell "Geronimo" on the way down.

The swim itself was great fun. We swim with fins, and a diver with fins can cover distance much more quickly than an ordinary swimmer. I wore my mask and snorkel; no-one else did, but I'm not fond of getting seawater up my nose. This did allow me to have a good look down at the sea, which had all the gin-clear clarity and warmth of runny mud. No diving there for a while. On the rocks, a retriever barked repeatedly, as if saying "I don't know what these foolish humans are doing, but I'll keep watch until they stop doing it".

I really want to do this more often. I'd forgotten how much fun it is just to swim without all my dive gear on, fond as I am of it. We were like human seals, splashing around in the waves and playing on the rocks. It was surprisingly not-cold in the water. We were in for about 40 minutes, then splashed back ashore to get changed in the car park (yes, my hobby involves exposing myself in car parks...) and enjoy a warm doughnut and hot chocolate. One of my buddies observed that you probably put back in the calories you burned on the dive by eating the doughnut. I replied that it's lucky I wasn't trying to lose weight, then. The doughnut was great.

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