January 2023 ‘Rest & Reflection’

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I read once that if you are at a point in life where you don’t know what to do, do nothing. When everything is boiling over, life is overwhelming you and decisions need to be made, the best thing to do is stop and take a breath. It feels like odd and contradictory advice, yet when I have followed the instruction, downed tools and disappeared into a pool of water, immersed myself in landscape or hidden between waves, life has indeed slowed down and a clarity has followed. 

As we enter a new year on the back of yet another odd and turbulent one, my advice is to do nothing. Pick up a book, swim, walk, stand, rest and reflect. Don’t commit to annual goals, don’t think about resolutions or exercise routines. Let life slow and make time to really think about how you want to live. January isn’t a time for resolutions. Beginnings happen in spring, now is the time to reflect and think about what might make your life full of purpose, adventure and joy.

I hope this month’s issue helps you wonder a little more and inspire you to bathe rather than swim fast or hard.

Ella Foote, Editor

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  • Water wildlife: thick-lipped grey mullet
    What’s that flash of silver-grey in the water? Susanne Masters has your guide to the thick-lipped grey mullet (chelon labrosus), harmless companions to our open water swims. 
  • Warm hats for cold water swimmers
    Reflective yarn for visibility, merino wool or fleece-lined for snugness or even a layer of neoprene for added insulation: Omie Dale reviews the best warm hats for cold water swimmers.
  • Training for a winter swimming event
    Jonathan Cowie shares guidance for how to prepare for a winter swimming event, including cold-water acclimatization and stroke technique.
  • The National Park Print Shop
    Jonathan Cowie takes a dip with artist Ian Battersby of the National Park Print Shop. 
  • Take a seaweed bath
    While you’re down by the water, why not gather ingredients for a restorative seaweed bath?
  • Tailor your own swim training plan
    Adaptive Swimmer Sophie Etheridge shares guidance for listening to your body, being kind to yourself and honing your own swim training plan
  • Swimming to sanctuary: the story of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini
    Elaine K Howley tells the extraordinary story of sisters Yusra and Sara Mardini, who escaped war-torn Syria to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics
  • Swimming spot: Stickle Tarn
    This out-and-back walk follows Stickle Ghyll to Stickle Tarn, where you will be rewarded not only with stunning views of Great Langdale but also a classic Lake District tarn for a wild swim. 
  • Staying awake for marathon swims
    Marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas reflects on how she has persevered through sleep deprivation for her long swims.
  • Returning to long-distance swimming after a break
    After a period of time swimming simply for pleasure, Editor Ella Foote has decided it’s time to take on some more challenging swims. Here, she asks swimming coach Cassie Patten to share tips for how to return to long-distance swimming after a break. 
  • Reflecting and planning: how to adapt your swim training in January
    January is a difficult month to adopt and stick with new habits, says Simon Griffiths. Instead, use January to sharpen your metaphorical axe.
  • Records tumble at the Winter Swimming World Cup
    International Winter Swimming Association Vice President Colin Hill shares his event report from the Winter Swimming World Cup in Burghausen, Germany
  • Portishead Popsicle
    Open water synchro, an inflatable race and wacky costumes delight cold water swimmers at the bonkers but brilliant Portishead Popsicle.
  • Paradise in Penzance
    Cool harbour dips and geothermal waters: Ella Foote explores this arty Cornish town.
  • Myth busting: Can a swan break your arm?
    “Sleep easy, your arms are safe.” Dan Keel, author of Swan: Portrait of a Majestic Bird: From Mythical Meanings to the Modern Day, answers this pressing question – can a swan really break your arm?
  • Move of the month: Legs Up The Wall pose
    This yoga pose is great after a long training session and before bedtime, aiding a restorative sleep.
  • How to host a swimmers’ swish
    Exchange your barely worn booties and ill-fitting goggles for a kit bag or second hand changing robe – all without spending a penny. Read our guide to hosting a swimmers’ clothes swap.
  • How to do a self analysis of your swimming
    Simon Griffiths plans out a training session that finds out more about how you swim and where there are opportunities for improvement.
  • H2O to Hollywood: swimmers turned movie stars
    Swimmers have lit up the silver screen right from the early days of Hollywood. Michael Renouf shines the spotlight on five stars of the pool who went on to enjoy successful acting careers.
  • Giving up social media
    Would you benefit from a digital detox? Contributing editor Jonathan Cowie reflects on six months of being completely social media free.
  • Forest bathing: immerse yourself in nature
    Rowan Clarke investigates the physiological and psychological benefits of forest bathing.
  • Does swearing help in cold water?
    Do you turn the air blue when you swim in cold water? Studies reveal that swearing can actually help relieve the discomfort!
  • Caro Giles on her love of the moon and the sea
    Author Caro Giles’ new book tells her tale of life in wild Northumberland with her four daughters. Ella Foote finds out more, and discovers how the moon lights up Caro’s life even on the darkest of days.
  • Books, films and podcasts for swimmers
    A forage’s calendar, tree spotting guide and lyrical insight into ancestral landscapes: what to read, watch and listen to this month. 
  • Bath products for swimmers
    Nothing warms you through, soothes aching muscles and eases tension like a good soak after a cold water swim. Read on for our favourite bath products for swimmers. 
  • “I survived a swan attack”
    During their swim down the length of the River Thames, Henley Mermaids Laura Reineke, Joan Fennelly and Susan Barry fended off a protective swan with their friend Marika Perkins.

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January 2024