It was raining and cold and dark (not because the sun wasn’t up, but because of the rain clouds) when I woke up this morning to get ready for swimming. It’s been quite a week at work and I admit I may have been tempted, just for a moment, to stay in bed where it was warm and cosy and sleepy.

Just for a moment.

Instead I was up and about and getting ready.  My usual carpooling buddies Ronene and Fiona were depending on me to drive. Plus another swimming buddy Vanessa (who lives in the same apartment complex as me) had asked the night before if she could have a seat in the car. She hasn’t been swimming for a little while, but she was at the charity trivia night last week and we may have put a bit of peer pressure on her to come join us for a swim. In my experience, no matter how much you love an activity, whether it’s ocean swimming or extreme ironing, it’s always good to do it with a friend (or two, or three or more) as there are always going to be days when you aren’t 100% sure you want to get out of bed. Having someone else relying on you being there can sometimes just be enough to get you over the line.

So off to the beach we went. It rained even more as we headed off, but the swimming gods were with us and it cleared by the time we got there.

Last week I discovered a hole in my wetsuit. Luckily it was pretty discrete, like right on the butt. *Cue all sorts of jokes that I’m sure you’re capable of imagining all on your own*. So, I was swimming sans-wettie again. *Cue cold shivers!* It may have stopped raining when we arrived, but the air was colder than it’s been so far this winter, and it was pretty breezy.

I maaay have even had a few misgivings as we walked down the beach towards the water. And then a few more as we walked out to our acclimatisation/warm-up to find that the water was pretty damn refreshing!

After a few minutes of procrastination and whingeing, I managed to get my goose-bumpy body under the waves and finally started swimming, Within moments I was past that stinging and tingling cold and had started going nicely numb. Initially when the water is cold like that I find that I get a bit short of breath while my body adjusts. Unfortunately this tends to be right about the point where you generally start having to get under the biggest of the waves to get out the back. Ronene hadn’t been particularly well during the week and I knew she had also been a little apprehensive about the swim. As we were heading out on the warm-up I looked over at her and she commented on the same thing. Ronene and I have been friends for years, but for various reasons she started swimming a year later than I did and this is her first winter season. Although she’s now generally faster than me, on the odd occasion I still have a word or two of advice to offer and I suggested that she relax, that it’s normal to feel short of breath and to just slow down and swim through it. Then I decided to take my own advice, relax, slow down and swim through it.

Before long I was acclimatised and having a ball. The sky may still have had some dark clouds over the horizon, but the water was crystal clear and green and amazing. The conditions were pretty much exactly what I dream of…waves with a bit of power, rolling sets in one direction that drive along into the shore (without smashing you down into the bank). With all the movement of the surf up top, and the clear water I could not believe the way it looked under the surface: it was truly amazing. There were shifting sands and currents and fish…all looking like it could be trapped on the inside of an emerald. I don’t even know how to describe how gorgeous it was.

The set was a good one too – some longer swims interspersed with a bit of wave-catching action. We also had a go at catching the backpacker special: the nice quick rip up the North end of the beach. Rips often get a bad name, but if you know what you’re doing they can be a lot of fun….we jumped in at the start and took a nice quick ride out the back, then swam parallel across the beach and safely back in further south of the rip. It can be quite exhilarating getting zipped along like that…and there are sea grasses and lots of schools of fish to look at along the rocks there….too much fun!

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