As I am in between shows on tour, I am swimming more local to me, and actually today I swam at my usual swim spot. But I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Nic, who I had not met before, for her daily early morning swim.
I rarely do early morning dips at the moment as my son is an early riser and I'm, well, knackered! but I know a swim will sort me out, although I have to say, quite often a swim will also make me very tired hours later as my body has worked so hard trying to get my temperature back up to speed.
Nic likes to swim alone here at our reservoir. I like how I say 'our' there. She's always been a keen swimmer since a child, but only really got in to all-year swimming outdoors, like many, during lockdown. Originally haling from the area, Nic found returning here to be a great comfort and to swim locally, even more so. Nic tells me how she cared for her grandma during 2021 and during lockdown was back and forth in between her job and family, ensuring her grandma was cared for, until she sadly passed. On the day her grandma died, she took to the water and found her peace and was at one. Nic tells me it was very difficult to lose her. Nic told me how she's tried it all: yoga, meditation, breathing techniques etc but never really found her breath until she started swimming alone in cold water. She tells me how well supported she is by her husband to ensure she finds this time to swim, breathe and reset.
Nic works for a homeless charity and tells me how upsetting her job can often be, so finding this tranquility in her outdoor swimming is a gift. Moved by hearing about a local man whose wife died from stage 4 breast cancer 10 weeks after having their child, Nic decided to swim the furthest she has ever swam to raise money for a cancer charity, raising an amazing £1600 and swimming an impressive 100km in a month, with a mid month marathon swim of 7.3km. "In breaststroke" Nic hastens to add "I can't do front crawl in open water, I get lost!". Excellent. I can only dream of being able to swim this far!
After I had got my cold water fix and swam for 10 minutes in my cossie, I climbed out whilst Nic swam on suited and booted and did a good distance around the reservoir. In fact, she swam for so long, I got too cold waiting and headed back, passing a newly-arrived gang of swimmers about to get in. And then another load arriving in the car park. I was glad that we were the first to create the ripples and greet the birds this morning. There was a lovely quiet which I know so well from swimming here for years and I could well understand Nic's desire for solitude before more swimmers arrive. Thankful for the lighter mornings, Nic has enjoyed swimming in the dark over winter and clambering out as daylight is brightening, but takes comfort in the knowledge that there are often fishermen dotted around the shores: they respect her and she them and there's a comfort in that too, that seeking of time alone and to be at one with nature before the world wakes up.