Another stupid thing I’ve done. In the ongoing series that is my life.

Coming home from Cork yesterday, the conditions driving across by the Comeraghs were terrible, in fact from Dungarvan to Carrick there was often heavy snow for miles on end. By last night everything had frozen to lethality.   So when I looked out this morning and saw this: I of course immediately thought, “I must go for a sea swim”.

Doggits and myself into the car.   And then a long drive to Tramore. Normally a 30 minute drive, I was unable to cross the bridge at Piltown due to the conditions. Through Waterford, I actually took the toll bridge, the only other time I’ve done this was the Christmas swim in similar conditions last year. I hoped as I approached the coast that the snow and ice would disappear as happened last year. Instead, conditions that I’ve never experienced myself at the coast prevailed and the temperature dropped further as I entered Tramore Town. Unwilling to risk the steep hill through the town, I went up onto the bypass and approached the coast and the Guillamenes from the west side through the trees. I saw this view when I arrived outside the car park, having taken twice as long as long as normal to get there. The grant for redoing the platform at the Guillamenes came through a few weeks ago and so the car park is closed and access down the cliff steps is blocked. So, quick walk for the doggits.

Looking toward the town I could see snow right on the beach.

The steps down were ice sheeted and the platform and rocks were covered in snow and ice. The air temperature was -3.5C! The coldest air temperature I’ve previously ever swum in was about +2 or 3C.

There was also a light Force 2 Northeasterly breeze blowing, just to add to the fun. The water was calm.

I’ve many times swam here on a Saturday or Sunday morning when there are none of the regulars around, but in those circumstances the water conditions were always such they wouldn’t risk it. Today however the water looked lovely and calm. But the risk just getting to the Guillamenes & Newtown Cove was obviously too much.

The cold air temperature meant steam was rising off the sea.

The freezing air and wind meant by the time I got togged out with cap on, my hands were completely numb before I got in the water. I had to wear my coat right to the edge and hang it on the top railing, something else I’ve never done, but it was bitterly cold.

The second pour on the new steps was completed this week, and while the rails remain to be added the new steps are now wide enough to allow a few people to exit and enter the water simultaneously, though it does look like the railings are going to be put to the side instead of the center, which would make more sense and allow entry and exit at the same time, but I long ago ceased to expect foresight from Local Government, retaining now only a perpetual sense of disappointment. But maybe this time I’ll be wrong.

The water itself was of course fine. I loaned my infrared thermometer but I’d say the water was probably 9.5C.

I only swam about 20 minutes. The steam rising off the water mean a reduction in horizontal visibility while the sky was perfectly clear overhead.

My shoulders and back were cold due to air and wind exposure. (Otherwise just normal November water temperature). Because of the cold air, I cut the swim short at about 20 minutes.

It was one of the utterly memorable swims. Blue overhead & white and pink streaks towards the south, with that peculiar washed-out almost urine-like colour of the southern sky toward the horizon mixed with cold grey rain/snow clouds.

While out there I had the usual sense of being the only person alive in the world. But today, unusually, I actually also thought about Liz, Craig, Rob, Gábor and Lisa who were also swimming this morning in Sandycove.  I’m not far from passing my Sandycove C target, but it looks like I won’t reach it until the new year.

Because of the wind and air, getting dressed was the same as if I’d been swimming in 5 or 6 C water and dropped my temperature more significantly.

I had left my rubber changing mat on the concrete and it had already frozen and was as cold to stand on as the concrete! I was unable to towel dry, just pulled the clothes straight on. (One reason why I wear Merino wool when going swimming, it retains body heat while damp.)

As I left I could see snow out in the bay, and the steam still rising.

The trip home was worse. Getting off the Guillamenes road was difficult It took half an hour just to get out of Tramore. For a short local swim, I spent half the day.

Apparently the coldest November since 1973.

But it was fun, as always.


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