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Cold water swimming: Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it

Alice Todd, who works with Coningham-Rolls Swimming Holidays*, introduced her sceptical sister to cold water swimming, with impressive results.

You know the feeling: the smug sense of satisfaction you get when you’re sitting at your desk at 8am, having already been for a swim outdoors before most people have successfully ordered a morning coffee.
You don’t usually reveal this self-righteousness to your colleagues of course (they already think you’re barking mad) but sometimes you just can’t get around letting people know you have just dunked yourself into a freezing cold lake pre-work, for fun. Granted, turning up at your desk noticeably overdressed and hugging your tea mug fanatically does sometimes raise a few questions, and, from time to time, you’ll come across the odd colleague or friend who has a slight glimmer in their eye when you explain your morning’s activities.
This week I had the pleasure if introducing my intrigued but sceptical younger sister to cold water swimming. After months of ‘I just don’t understand why you do it’, she finally acquiesced to my ‘don’t knock it till you’ve tried it’ retorts, and agreed to come along. If she didn’t like it, I promised I would buy breakfast.
When we met at Hyde Park Corner at 7am, the sun was beaming through the trees, the daffodils were in full bloom and the Serpentine was as still as glass – a perfect introduction. With the water temperature a challenging 8oC for a newbie cold water swimmer, she took to the water with considerable ease, and managed a length of the swimming area with minimal fuss.
The promise of a post-swim cake and encouraging words from other club swimmers meant she was soon in and out, having completed her first open water swim in one of London’s most iconic locations. Testament to the open water swimming community, my sister was immediately swamped with offers of tea, cake, more cake, extra towels, coats, hats and hot water bottles and was soon sitting on the edge of the lake sipping a cup of tea and ready to face a day in the office.
Later that day I received a fantastic text:
‘I’m still beaming! Can I come again?!’
Last weekend, when visiting family in Scarborough, we both raced down the beach for a dip. Even with sunshine lacking, we both came out grinning from ear-to-ear and I was treated to my post-swim breakfast of victory – watching the waves roll in. 
The moral of the story? Keep your eyes peeled for colleagues, friends and family who are intrigued but sceptical. I’m pretty sure you’ll end up a breakfast better off.
*Coningham-Rolls Swimming Holidays runs an ‘Improvers’ Tour’ in the crystal clear waters of Formentera (just off Ibiza, Spain). It’s a perfect introduction for those new to open water swimming. Dates available in May, June, September and October.
Find out more:
 07951 727453 | info@coningham-rolls.

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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.