I’d been following Mental Health Swims since October 2019 but only found the courage to attend one in 2020 when the Margate swim started up at Walpole Bay. With the water getting colder and knowing I would be safer swimming in a group I made my way along to the first group.
Trepidation filled me. The dread of having to make small talk, the Black Dog sitting on my shoulder whispering worries in my ear. But I really didn’t have to worry. There was no expectation to talk. It was just a group of like minded people getting in the water together and watching out for each other. Conversations naturally happened – mainly discussing how we were going to get in – down the ladder as fast as we can, or taking it one rung at a time, slowly letting the cold envelope up. Then it moved onto how %*^%& cold it was, then the view from the tidal pool out over the bay. Now I am a regular at both the Whitstable and Walpole Mental Health Swims when I can make it down to them.
If anyone has considered giving cold water swimming a go I highly recommend it. Find a local group – Mental Health Swims maintain a map of all their swims on their website. Any group you find will be welcoming and will help you navigate your first swim. And once you have had that first cold experience, I’m fairly sure you might get hooked.