Swimming through winter – KB017

I’ve spent all week thinking about swimming through winter, after talking to my latest podcast guest.
While the title of Kirrilee’s book is literal – she is approaching her second winter wild swimming – it is also a metaphor for wild swimming being a way to help us get through tough times. We can all find ourselves stranded deep in winter, at any time of the year, at any time of our lives.
This kind of winter can be dark, cold and lonely.
I can conjure up images of ploughing on, head down, not sure where I’m going. Knee deep in snow or mud. Every step being an effort. No sign of anything up ahead to make me hopeful that the end was in sight. No one around to ask for help, or to even reassure me that I was going in the right direction and wouldn’t be lost forever.
Trudging. Struggling. Tired. Depleted. Thinking about giving up. Worrying what that will mean.
I then think about swimming through it.
Being lifted up by the water. Supported. Buoyant. Carried along by the current.
It may still be dark, cold and lonely, but at least I’m moving more quickly and effortlessly. The water is helping me.
Throw in a few swimming buddies and the loneliness disappears.
See the moon reflected in the water, or the lights from nearby cars or buildings, and the dark is a gift creating a magical world of multicoloured reflections.
And the cold. Oddly, for most of us who decide to swim through winter, rather than battle on on foot, the cold becomes a friend. Medication. Reinforcement that we are going to be ok. We are stronger than we ever imagined. The cold is part of what gets us through to spring. We embrace the cold. Harness its ability to awaken chemical reactions inside us. The way it strips our skin’s surface so that we can really feel, it drags our mind into the immediate now and away from the winter that has stopped us in our tracks.
We find ourselves waving not drowning.
Swimming through winter, instead of being stuck inside it, frozen and immobile.
This episode is for anyone who has ever swum through winter, in a literal or metaphorical sense, and to everyone still swimming.
Things we talked about
Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley, Turning by Jessica Lee, The Lido by Libby Page, Swell by Jenny Landreth, Swim Run, Wanaka, Windermere swim, Women’s Swimming Collective

Photo by Peter Steele 
Photo by Peter Steele 

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