Baby It’s Cold

My first swim of the season was a Sunday evening after a weekend of prolonged travel because of a missed flight; bright white heat; a prom photo session with an unfamiliar camera in high contrast sun and shadow; and the first Father’s Day without my own father (and with the father of my children on another continent).

Father’s Day, surprisingly, had turned out lovely, with an unexpected visit from a faraway friend, wine tasting, wine drinking and soothing live music on a patio in the shade at the winery, and this swim with my sister.

As she drove down the long, steep hill to the bay, I asked her if she remembered us roller skating down same hill. Her reply was a long laugh and “NO! Why did we do that?!!” That question has no answers, except maybe “Because.”

The light, at 9 pm, was soft and would be turning to pink on the water as we swam. With the blue mountains in silhouette across the Salish Sea, Newcastle Island on the other side of the bay, and waves lapping, it was magical.

Magical and COLD: absolutely freezing. It hurt my feet and legs and since I am not one to jump into water, it hurt my stomach, arms and chest as I waded in. Finally, for no other reason than just because, I went all in and swam. It didn’t take long to become numb. Well, not so much numb as exhilarated. In the beautiful surroundings and such cold water, I felt both energised and calmed.

As we swam, we talked about the amazing effects of cold water, my sister telling me that it is often used as a type of managed stress, to help bodies, souls and mind cope with stress that isn’t so easily managed.

Ruth Fitzmaurice, the author of I Found My Tribe, found solace and salvation in swimming with friends in all weathers and seasons. She says in an interview in The Guardian, “It is a reset button: you’ll never regret a swim, you’ll always feel good coming out of that water.” She adds, “It’s a way of taking control when so much is out of your hands.”

A plunge into cold water brings the blood rushing first to your skin, then back to your organs – including your brain – giving them fresh nutrients and oxygen, while also detoxifying everything. Your central nervous system’s response (heart rate, breathing, blood pressure) is strengthened through repeated exposure. Because of this, jumping into the sea can improve metabolism, build up immune systems, help manage pain and bring on a good mood.

Read some more here or here.

We’re enhancing our swims this summer with gorgeous Turkish towels – birthday gifts from the swimming sister – that are soft, super absorbent, quick drying, large enough to wrap around ourselves several times, and beautiful.

Don’t try sudden plunges into cold water if you have high blood pressure or Raynaud’s disease, or suffer from acute pain or hardening of the arteries.


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