The sense of optimism was palpable. After last week’s perfect sunset swim in a flat calm Carsaig bay, with laughter, joy and waving hands silhouetted against a backdrop of Jura, this week it was dull, overcast and definitely twilight. At this time of year, a week (and the weather) makes a big difference for the 6.30pm swim.
But I think that “optimism” is a trait of wild swimmers. When I joked that we should perhaps have quit last week on the upper of a perfect sunset swim, the retorts came flying: “At least it’s not very windy,” said Lottie, as my scarf was whipped round by a gust. “I like swimming in the rain,” said Melanie as the drizzle gradually turned to a downpour. “The worst part is waiting around … it’s better just to get in,” said Fraser. And Iona pointed out how enthusiastic little Daisy the dog was to come and join in the fun. “It’s great swimming in the dark,” I added, not wanting to be left out.
It felt as though we were clasping at straws … and, unusually, there was a sense that on this occasion no one wanted to get into the water at all. It’s the dread before going in that’s the worst on a dull and chilly evening, but, once you’re in, the water is smooth, silky and enveloping (and numbing, of course).
As we submerged ourselves we were bathed by car headlights as Diana rolled up. She bounded along the jetty and joined us, but not without contemplating the fact that most people were sitting warmly at home eating their tea.
So, it was to be a short swim. But still enough energy to go to the rock on the first reef (that’s about 50 metres away, so don’t get excited about our stamina, dear reader). The water had quite a pleasant swell, gently undulating up and down: a tantalising taster of the winter swims to come. The swell helped as Lottie and I clambered onto the rock, to feel the warm glow of the body as you stand out of the water before jumping back in.
With goggles, it was well nigh impossible to see the jetty (mine are tinted), and intriguingly you could see more with your head in the water than out: the sandy bottom must have been reflecting the last of the twilight. Time to get some night-vision goggles, perhaps!
Afterwards, it was a quick change in the rain and then we all bundled back to Iona’s wood-burning stove for a cup of tea, some savoury snacks, Iona’s delicious bramble crumble and Fraser’s excellent banana cake.
So, we’re now moving from weekday evening swims to weekend daytime swims, starting at Dun Mhuirich this Sunday. And I think we’re all looking forward to the call for the first storm swim! It probably won’t be long now!