By: Blonde Two

Think about your favourite swimming pool.

Now think about the sea.

There are similarities aren’t there, and differences. In January I gave up my indoor swimming pool membership, for reasons of finance, after nearly 8 years. I hope my current swimming location (Torbay) lasts me for that long, I am up to 8 months regular sea swimming now and I really wouldn’t go back to the pool. Here are 10 differences between sea swimming and pool indoor swimming:

1. A pool is a regular temperature. The temperature of the sea appears to fluctuate according to the weather, the tide, the season, the position of the sun, the number of seagulls, the presence of sea weed and the number of people with whom you are swim/chatting.

2. A pool is too warm to help with early morning hot flushes. The sea is always colder than me in the morning and hasn’t let me or my wayward hormones down yet.

3. The bottom of a pool becomes boring after about 3 lengths, there is only so much interest inherent in blue tiles. The bottom of the sea is endlessly fascinating (especially if you can’t see it). It contains sparkling sand, waving sea grass, crabs, flatfish, sea monsters and mermaids (if you look closely).

4. A pool is always the same depth. The sea is never the same depth twice (this may not be a scientific fact). The shallow end of the sea shifts position and sometimes the first thing you know about running out of water is when your fingertips scrape the sand.

5. A pool feels safe (and therefore boring). The sea still doesn’t feel safe to me. There are waves, currents and deep water but they don’t bother me. The things I worry about are the ones I can’t see (which is most of them). All of this means that, for me, exploring new sea territory is an exercise in courage.

6. A pool leaving you smelling of chlorine. The sea leaves you smelling of fresh saltiness, which brings a smile to my lips every time I smell it. (Mind you there was that time after it had rained that the sea smelt a bit iffy.)

7. Swimming in a pool is a solo (and sometime over competitive) affair. Swimming in the sea is a joy because the people who do it are so genuinely friendly, chatty and welcoming.

8. It is tricky to get a suntan in a pool (well in an indoor one anyway). I have discovered this year that, if you swim all year, your tan creeps up on you and instead of experiencing sore redness, you gain a mellow and wholesome-looking shade of brown.

9. A pool always looks the same. The sea, as far as I can tell, never looks the same twice. Yesterday morning a friend and I were admiring the shine on a beach across the bay. I had never noticed it there before.

10. A pool is man-made, full of chemicals and uses colossal amounts of energy to run. The sea is far better for having been made by hands other than ours, is natural and, if we get our act together, could be used to produce energy.

Of course, not everybody is lucky enough to have access to the sea as their swimming pool. I grew up in the middle of England and used to long for open water. There are always lakes though, or rivers, or even puddles if you are desperate!