Kari Furre co-founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society, who has attended the last two Wild Dart Swims, shares her thoughts on swimming outdoors. Ceri and Kari will be on hand for a swim/run training and advice session at Ashburton Lido on Saturday July 1, starting at 11.30am. Entry £6 a head.
Swimming is swimming, whether you are in a swimming pool run by the council, a muddy pond or a sea full of chop. I am a bit of a water junkie and will swim in anything.
My personal difficulty is cold, for others it is fears of the deep, fears of trespassing, panic induced by the very thought of waves and currents. Most people start outdoor swimming these days, by signing up to a challenge.
My first challenge in England was a swim in the upper Thames, I had thought, obviously, that the water there would be gin clear and sublime, quite different from the muddy waters of the Humber where I was living in East Yorkshire.
When I arrived the water was GREEN, green as the trees that formed a tunnel above the water, everything that July day was green, under the water too, just fans of light piercing the green soup and the green banks at every breath. Each swim I did took on a different character, whisky brown rivers with champagne bubbles, Washing machine grey seas, Azure blue seas so cold that everything ached.
Slowly as I gained experience and confidence I could choose whether to swim or not. Sometimes you just don’t want to, the day is wrong, there is a brooding atmosphere infecting your enthusiasm, and if you overcome that feeling it is usually the best swim, but sometimes you just go home, having been unable to take the plunge.
They say you never regret a swim, that is true, but only if you do it on your own terms, only if you are fired up to overcome your difficulties and enjoy the adrenaline rush. Swimming is not something to be cajoled into, take advice, swim with others, but listen to yourself, not your friends.
Beware the demon on your shoulder who whispers words of doom, he needs to be brushed aside, he is usually wrong. Listen to your soul, your creative adventurous side, go slowly and inquisitively. For some dunking your face in the water is as hard as jumping from a cliff for another.
An event is a good and safe way to swim out of your comfort zone, you don’t have the responsibility of deciding where or when to swim, there is a safety crew waiting to fish you out.
For me my competitive nature kicks in and often I can remember very little about the detail of the swim, if you can overcome that and pay attention to your surroundings then start with a short course event, one kilometre or one mile races are great fun, the shared nerves, the camaraderie after the competition are great.
However even in a splashy start with the water boiling with swimmers around you, suddenly you are alone, alone in the water, alone with your thoughts. Hearing is intermittent. All you think about is swimming.
So even when you are with others you need to enjoy that aloneness, to relish the healing solitude, to want to take responsibility for your own destiny.
Swimming is the best experience in the world, for me it is the same in the pool or the pond, the estuary or the sea, as long as you pay attention and be responsible for yourself.
You can book your place on the Wild Dart Swim, our 2.5k and 5k swim and aquathon in Kari’s stomping ground- the River Dart.BOOK WILD DART SWIM TICKETS HERE