And just like that, we’re in November already! I’m keeping the LOOP simple this month, and as promised will introduce you to the gang at The Swim Shed, along with Jane’s last ever LOOP, that she wrote back in chilly February just a few days before she passed.
So to kick things off, here’s a nugget of open water wisdom from Jane to keep you cosy now that those temps are beginning to drop again!
“We’ve seen huge growth in the numbers of swimmers continuing to swim open water throughout the year and into the winter. With only a handful of lakes that remain open, lots of you are heading to the sea and rivers for your fix.
Hearing your stories on how your are coping and adjusting to the effects of cold water immersions, we feel fortunate that we can help you though this process, drawing on our own knowledge and experience.
We switched to swimming at Stoney Cove back in 2015, one of the main reasons being that it offered colder, weed-free, year round swimming. During the first couple of winters, at the Cove, there were just 2 or 3 swimmers braving the winter months. This year we have seen it grow (some weeks) into 15-20 hardy souls, each arriving with their own strategies and coping mechanisms for their swim…some dressed like Navy Seals, down to those in swim cozzies or budgie smugglers and a tow float! The common denominator amongst us is the look of apprehension, sometimes fear in our eyes whilst we get ready to commit!
Here’s a question to ponder. Are you a thermometer or a thermostat? Something we learned, a long time ago, and that has helped us a great deal, was the need to control your own inner environment in whatever situation or circumstance you find yourself presented with. This thinking can be applied to any area of your life or sporting endeavour, but we will elaborate in relation to winter swimming.
A favourite line of ours from The Office is ‘Speak what you see Gareth’. If you lean more towards being a thermometer in life, you will literally ‘speak what you see’ and state what is in front of you / the obvious. As Brits, it’s in our DNA to discuss the weather and daily temperatures…we are walking, talking thermometers! This can ultimately sow seeds of doubt, before a winter swim, which can unravel your belief (belief is a fragile thing) and your overall enjoyment and experience.
If you opt to become a thermostat in life, you programme your internal environment, so to speak and cultivate thoughts and feelings that are in keeping with the outcome you wish to relish.
We experimented applying this to our winter swims. It is well documented that the body follows the mind, so it bodes well for us to become a thermostat and edit out thoughts of ‘cold’ or ‘dropping temperatures’ in the mental lead up to a winter swim, cocooning ourselves in thoughts and visualisations of feeling calm, confident, relaxed and revelling in the dip.
Try it, it works, we are happy to help.
Open water swimming is still a relatively new sport. The uptake has been exponential over the last decade. The new frontier has definitely been swimming outside through the winter and into the spring. We feel privileged to be part of this sporting endeavour.
We are all learning!”
INTRODUCING... ROSIE & PEARL
Hiya, for those who haven’t met me yet my name is Rosie. I joined the Swim Shed team in June this year to learn the tricks of the trade of swim coaching. I am lucky enough to be a student here until next June, when my Uni placement finishes. I am currently studying Health and Exercise Science at Bath University. This involves learning about the human body and the effects exercise has on it. The Swim Shed is the perfect placement for me as I swim myself and have worked with Keith for a number of years. As an elite swimmer I used to train long hours with the GB squad, however, in February this year I took 'early retirement’. I mainly raced in the pool, but, in the summer I swam open water, which I found I was quite good at and really enjoyed (In 2016, I was ranked 13th in the world in 16/17 age category.This result lead me to being named England programmes open water swimmer of the year - Keith insisted I put that bit in). Now I love going to the lake for a swim, to help others, get a nice bit of fresh air and a good tan - what isn’t there to like. I look forward to catching up over the coming months.
Woof woof, Pearl here! My role at The Swim Shed is to keep Keith and Rosie in line, meet and greet, flutter my waggy tail and allow you all to make a fuss of me - because I’m worth it! Unlike Rosie, I’m stuck with Keith and won’t be finishing in June. Keep your eyes peeled to see some of the adventures I’ve been on throughout the year. If Keith and Rosie ever get their act together, you’ll see me at some of the places and the peeps I’ve been hanging about with!