FEATURES,  Readers' Swims

A dog ate my clothes, Officer

Dogs eating books has been a standard excuse for students ever since homework was invented, but how about dogs eating your clothes while you are open water swimming? That’s what happened to Dawn Gillon while she was taking part in Chillswim’s Boxing Day swim in Windermere.
This is what she said about the day: “Call me mad, if you like, but I quite fancy the sound of swimming outside in the middle of winter when the air temperature is three degrees Celsius, the water expected to be about five degrees and just a thin costume and swim hat for warmth.”
It all would have been fine, except that she took Tilly, her black Labrador along for company. She lined up to plunge into Windermere along with 67 others and charged into the water on the signal only to find those in front of her stopping suddenly as they hit the water.
“When I saw them stop I knew it was going to be cold but I wasn’t stopping,” she says. “In my haste, I ran through the group and plunged into the cold depths. I could feel my body start to tingle as the cold chilled me through, but I wasn’t bothered as the view and the atmosphere were amazing. I would recommend it to anyone. I swam out to the rope, turned and swam back. Some of the others hadn’t even got in by this point and some didn’t get in at all. I felt great.”
But this was where things started to go wrong.
“As I got out of the water, shivering by this time, Tilly thought it would be great fun to run off with my clothes, tear them to shreds and leave me shaking at the water’s edge. Luckily, I did manage to retrieve my trousers and had a coat in the back of the car, just imagine how embarrassing the trip home might have been otherwise, and what I would have said if I were stopped.”
Now that Dawn has warmed up again she has forgiven Tilly.
Dawn did the Windermere swim for Galloway’s Society for the Blind, which is a local charity in Morecambe she supports as she has twin daughters who are registered blind. If you want to make a donation, you can call the charity on 01524 414846.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.