Getting out of the indoor pool – outdoor swimming starts now

camberwell baths“Swimming without a roof over your head is now a mildly subversive activity, like having an allotment, insisting on your right to walk a footpath, or riding a bicycle.”

It’s now almost four months since I swam the Waveney, the brisk wind and biting cold keeping me out of open water. And despite my best intentions (set out right on this blog no less) and the purchase of a rather natty wetsuit, I’ve let work and countless excuses get in the way of easing myself into a river, lake or the sea this winter.

But no more. Because yesterday, I went for my weekly winter indoor kilometre. Usually, I take this on a Tuesday lunch time with my esteemed fellow freelancer Joe, at a private pool in North London. But this week, that wasn’t on the cards. So instead, I made a beeline for my local leisure centre, the beautifully redesigned Camberwell Public Baths.Now, let’s be clear. The pool itself is in a stunning, high-vaulted hall, the lanes are nice and wide and the changing facilities are swanky, even if there’s a lingering smell of sewage. But as I walked in I noticed the temperature of the water was 30ºC. I didn’t make much of it until I used my wonky maths to confirm that that’s a frankly crazy 86ºF.

Dropping into the shallow end, I felt as if I was getting into a tepid bath. Working myself into a leisurely front crawl, sweat began pricking my forehead. This was unquestionably the most uncomfortable swimming experience I’ve ever had. And I include getting brain freeze last autumn at Highgate Ponds and suffering chattering teeth for 90 minutes after a dip in Lyme Regis.

It brought to mind the above quote from Roger and has finally forced me into stopping talking about an outdoor swim and starting to arrange one. I’m Dungeness-bound in two weeks with some friends, after a short holiday. I’ll have the wetsuit in tow (I’m not as doughty as some of my lovely readers, nor the seemingly rock hard Al Alvarez, who’s Pondlife diary I’m currently reading) and I can’t wait to start shivering.

Spring my still be some weeks off, but the days of hitting overheated indoor pools are over. For me and Waterlog Reswum, the summer starts now.

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3 Comments on “Getting out of the indoor pool – outdoor swimming starts now

    • I’m coming your way in March, come hell or high water. The wetsuit’s very cozy. Let’s get Molly in on it too. I want to get up to Blakeney or any of the other spots in Norfolk.

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