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As we pulled up to Lac de Passy to complete the lake section of this challenge, we spotted an elderly woman about to step out of the water. She was wearing a swimming costume, cap, nose clip and goggles and had clearly been out there for a while. Despite the fact that snow-capped mountains surrounded the lake, she wasn’t shivering.
We assumed her hardiness had been developed over a lifetime of enduring cold winters as an Alpine native, but as we sheepishly removed our clothes and started to test the water’s temperature with our pinkies, she let out a little laugh and said, “it’s fine when you’re in”, in a very British accent.
Unable to play the tourist card to excuse our comparative weakness, there was nothing left to do but admire the old woman who was comprehensively thrashing us at our own game. We swam a little way out into the lake and ducked our heads, dreaming of a day when we’d be able to step out of a mountain lake after 100 laps and laugh at silly little boys who like to play at being adventurers
Unlike oceans and lakes, rivers have banks that need to be negotiated before swimming can begin. Wading through knee deep river bank sludge is enough to put many people off taking a dip, but as we put our feet into the mud on the bottom of River Arun on the South Downs to complete this section of the month’s challenge, we embraced each squidgy step.
Most rivers in England aren’t particularly well suited to long swims, but a dip was all we needed. Laughing with the dog walkers who shouted ‘you must be mad!’ as they crossed the bridge over our heads, we enjoyed the fact that we were challenging their decision to wear coats in Spring. We were hurrying Summer on, and never more so than when drying off on the bank, trying to remove all sludge from between our toes before putting our clothes on again.
Nothing makes Matt and Callum more envious than the fact that Jake, Joe and Nick all live by the sea. They can reap all the benefits of a salty dip, whenever they choose. Any day of the year, for as long as they like. For the city dwellers among us, however, a trip to the seaside takes planning and effort.
We’ve gotten better at planning as a direct consequence of Everyday Adventure though, and in order to ensure this month’s challenge was a success, Matt planned a trip to Cornwall, and Callum drove down to Bournemouth. Swimming in the sea is always worth the effort. Its vastness, saltiness and varied depth makes it the best choice for wild swimming, and it’s the best way to make you feel as though you’re on holiday, whatever time of the year it may be.
We read a post on another adventurer’s blog that said an average twenty-something year old might only swim in the sea another 50 times during their lives. It assumed that swimming in the sea is only something you do when young, and that it’s most likely to happen on a holiday taken once a year. It sounded too small a number at first, but then started to make sense the more we thought about it. But what a terrifying thought! With this in mind, we vowed to swim in the sea at least 500 more times, and Matt and Callum began the search for seaside apartments.