After weeks of staring at puddles and ditches on daily dog walks wondering if there was enough rank water to make a swim of it, Boris lifted the restrictions enough for us to get back to the North Sea coast. And what a grand swim it was.
After our aborted swim at Dunwich in April, the Suffolk village seemed the most appropriate place to pick up where we’d left off now the lockdown easing allowed us to to travel for exercise. Despite the relaxing on the rules, there still felt something a bit subversive about it – having been housebound for months and observing lockdown to the letter, we could hardly believe we were really here again.
The village was quiet, just a couple of other cars parked up, and mercifully so was the North Sea – a vast sheet of silvered glass reflecting dawn. If we were ever going to hear the church bells tolling under the waves, a day like this would be our best chance.
We lasted our customary 20 minutes before the cold bit too hard at our hands and feet and we headed for the beach. I was trying out my new Red Original changing robe, and what a fearsome piece of kit it is. Luxurious and warm, it’s like being hugged by a yeti. Probably.
The benefits of swimming in open water are now well known to us. The feeling when you’re in the water produces a smile that is impossible to suppress. And the afterglow, which can last for hours, seems almost like a drug in your bloodstream. But in particular today, after the anxiety of lockdown, the effect of even just a short swim in the sea was truly extraordinary – I could literally feel weeks of bottled stress seeping out into the water with each leisurely stroke, a relaxation of muscles I’d hardly realised were so knotted and tight, a weight I’d carried lifting effortlessly.
I think no matter where this open water swimming adventure takes us, we will always remember this simple dip on a deserted Suffolk beach.