The first swim

In Life, Nature
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I am not a strong swimmer, and I’m certainly not an all-weather swimmer. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I would or should describe it as swimming at all. It’s more a case of swim a few strokes, and then float around on my back watching the sky, and listening to the birds and the waves lapping at the shore. Were it not for the undesirable hippo connotations, I might in fact describe it as wallowing!

But anyway, we are fortunate enough to have a house on the Welsh coast, and so by and large, when I do swim it is off that coast. My requirements are specific: the air temperature must be higher than the sea temperature (which never noses far above 15 degrees); the waves must be small to flat; and ideally the sun must be shining. And, of course, I must actually be in Wales, and not land-locked Hertfordshire!

The window for the confluence of these conditions is generally June – end October, and the opportunity for the first swim of the year is always eagerly anticipated and usually subject to a number of false starts. Too cold! Too windy! Too much surf! Jellyfish!

This year the happy day turned out to be 25 June, and the location – as is often the case, because it’s my favourite place to wallow – was St Bride’s Haven. A short drive from our house, and a beautiful little sheltered bay. The following photos were all snapped on my iPhone before and after I immersed myself in the brine. You will have to imagine the “during”, but suffice to say the water was lovely once I’d gone completely numb!



  1. Oh my! This is the landscape/seascape of a reader well-steeped in English novels from the time she was tiny. Thank you for sharing your swim and your special place.

  2. I love the ritual of this. Even if I have only swum off the English coast no more than a handful of times myself.

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