Ditching the wetsuit!

#TEAMSELKIE  20th November 2018

I really can’t believe I’m writing this…but after some pretty awesome days spent with my fellow #teamselkie mates late summer, I was inspired to ditch my wetsuit and see how far I could go into the season (and even perhaps all the way through) without it. Now this is a really big deal for me, as I have never even gone a summer season without my suit. In fact, there have been times when I’ve been too warm in my suit and still haven’t ditched it! To say I’m not too good in the cold is an understatement.

Here we are. It’s November. I’m still in my cossie. That’s not to say I’m now a cold water swimmer, but I’m sticking at it, and have proven to myself I can cope better with the cold than I ever thought. It’s amazing what you can do when you really put your mind to it and stick with it. I had some good advice from a fellow #teamselkie team mate, Matty, who is a fully fledged crazy ice swimmer. My new motto getting into the water is ‘be like Matty’.

I’ve learnt a couple of things since ditching the suit that have really helped,  so I thought I would share these. The main lesson, and one which most people will no doubt already do, is to get dry and changed immediately after the swim. I used to walk home in my wetsuit, less than 10 minutes away, but I’ve realised I can no longer do this. I have found that if I change the moment I get out, I warm up much faster and it makes for a much less painful experience!

Another thing I have learnt is to acknowledge and accept the fact that my time and pace vary as it gets colder. It’s been hard to accept that I am not able to do long training sessions, or hit the pace I’m used to swimming at. Everything slows down slightly for me, but that’s ok. Acclimatising and getting used to shorter but more intense sessions has been a great learning curve.

One thing Matty told me to do, and one I would now advise to others trying to ditch their suit too, is to swim through summer without one, and acclimatise slowly. I stopped using my suit in summer during the heat wave, it was a great opportunity to get used to swimming in my cossie, without having to cope with the cold. It has been nice gradually acclimatising since then, and not having any major “shocks”! I am really enjoying swimming without my wetsuit, and even more unexpected…..I don’t really miss it! Give it a go if you fancy it, you might surprise yourself!

Of course we are not through winter yet, in fact it’s not winter yet,, and I’m really anticipating this challenge becoming much harder, this is just the beginning, but I’ll keep you all posted on how long I can cope…maybe one day I’ll attempt an ice mile!

(All images by Grace Gay)

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