Coldwater swimming I have done, or I’ve done what I considered to be cold-water swimming, but I was wrong. That was just a small part of something even bigger. When I first began open water swimming I just thought people swam in lakes in wetsuits, I had no idea there was ice swimming, polar bear swims or really any proper sea swimming. As my 7th Challenge of my 12 in 12, I decided to challenge my mind and body with a Boxing Day sea swim in Whitby. This would be a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge as it was under 6 degrees, and I’d just be in just my swimsuit!

Why a cold swim?

I remember hating getting up early on Boxing Day when I worked in retail. Towards the end of Christmas Day, the lull of having to get up at silly o’clock’ would set in, and I’d be up with the birds and off to work the sale shift. Those days are long behind me now, but this year I’d actually be getting up early to leave the East Midlands and set out for Whitby.

Whilst searching for challenges I said from the start I had to do something really challenging for my swimming. I love to swim as many of you know, and I can probably hold a comfortable pace long distance, but very much like cycling, I’m also a fairweather swimmer. I don’t do the cold. Boxing Day was always going to be chilly so my husband found the annual Whitby Boxing Day Dip, and that was to be my 7th challenge. I couldn’t believe how many people had turned out to not only swim but also to watch too! Many were fundraising for the event, like the group of sharks who swam in the water, and also helped baby shark song get stuck in my head for the next few days! Thanks, Sharks!

Getting in the water

I signed up on the day, paid my fee (£10), and joined the group of equally mad people like me. Shivering in a bundle as we all removed Dry Robes and jumpers, we were just waiting for the countdown. I think the challenge for me, was feeling so vulnerable in just my swimsuit. Perhaps because I knew the sea would be cold. The horn went off and with the crowd of assorted fancy-dressed participants closeby, we started to run. I wondered for a split second why we were running! But actually not having time to even contemplate to go in or not, was welcomed! I didn’t have a choice, I was running at the sea ready to dive in.

First in, last out

I knew I wanted to get a lot out of this challenge and immediately noticed many ran into the water. They’d stay for a few seconds then simply got out. Some would stand and splash and leave. For me, I wanted to actually be in the water so I began swimming lengths as much as I could. It took some time but I did get used to the chill. Admittedly I couldn’t do front crawl due to how cold it was!

Finally, the sharks were beginning to leave the water and 15 minutes was nearly up. The RNLI staff were the event lifeguards and had patiently been stood in the water making sure everyone was safe. They started to move in and we got out. My husband quickly bundled me up and got me a nice cup of warm coffee, and I was so thankful. I did feel very energised by the experience, and if I’m honest I would possibly do it again!

Watch the video

Cannot believe I’m about to go onto challenge 8! I’m hoping to bring as much awareness as possible to epilepsy, so please do keep coming back, reading, watching and supporting.