By: Blonde Two

I’ve mentioned before that during lockdown one in March we saw a marked increase in outdoor swimming around Torbay. Not all the way around Tor Bay you understand, just at the edges (usually the extreme edges).

A new swimming ‘destination’?

Like so many people used to solitude and the ‘look at me’ aspect of an unusual hobby, I at first found this slightly disconcerting. Had our quiet early morning steps at the ‘wrong’ end of the prom become that most worrying of things, a ‘destination’?

After giving myself a good talking to however I decided I didn’t mind (generous of me I know). Having made it my life’s mission to convince the rest of the world of the mental and physical benefits of being outside, in particular outdoor swimming, it would have been churlish to resent this evidence of success.

Not that I think the success was mine. With swimming pools closed and a stunning sweep of water just down the road, it should perhaps have surprised me that all of Torbay’s 136,000 plus people weren’t heading into the waves.

Outdoor swimming into January

Back in March and through the summer I told myself I still had the edge, and that all these new swimmers wouldn’t ‘be there in January’. How wrong I was. And how differently I feel now. We are going through a difficult time so it perhaps isn’t surprising that many (not all) of our new swimmers are still there. Through the coldest of January weathers (for Devon) and in seas that are as chilly now as they usually are in March (their coldest point), our newbies (I should probably stop calling them that) are still entering the water shivering, and emerging from it bright pink and smiling.

Perfect for social distancing

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking about overcrowding here. Winter outdoor swimming still has to be one of the very best outdoor activities when it comes to social distancing. This morning I parked my towel and bag at the ‘right’ end of the prom (the one with less seaweed and dog wee), swam the solitary 300 metres up to our steps, had a watery chat with a friend, remembered I was cold, then swam back to get changed. It reminded me that, during the March lockdown, when I had chosen to change and swim alone, a friendly beach sweeper called Kevin had suggested I might like to swim up by the steps with all the ‘serious’ swimmers.

I miss Kevin.