First day

First day that was there was heavy morning frost on the vegetation.

First day that I thought about bringing a flask with hot chocolate (and then forgot).

First day that the water was down to 10º Celsius.

First day that I was certain it was too risky to swim toward Newtown Head.

First day that my sinuses hurt after diving in.

First day that I swam exactly 55:55.

First day that my thighs got cold.

First day that I thought about double-capping (but didn’t).

First day that I wanted wool socks afterwards.

First day that I realised the Amphibia neoprene changing mat would be too thin for freezing winter concrete and wasn’t designed for open water winter swimmers.

First day that I decided tying my shoelaces afterwards could wait until later.

First day that I remembered I need to start wearing a belt again to ensure post-swim trouser retention.

First day that I was walking around the supermarket afterwards with a bit of a chatter going.

First day that I was still chilly when I got home.

First day of winter.

LoneSwimmer … on the water


12 thoughts on “First day

  1. Hi Donal,
    Thanks for the reply. Given your training and experience this information is invaluable. I imagine those conditions to be like a tipping point then whereby once mother nature were to inevitably launch even more force to the equation, an easy swim could potentially turn into a difficult possibly life threatening situation and not worth the risk. Highlights the importance then, trained or not the ability to be versatile, perceive whats really happening and adapt to it. Thanks again.


    • Cheers Sam. If I could just get people to stop and think, to watch the water before they in, to judge every swim as something new and to make decisions rationally based on evidence… I guess I’d be a successful something or other.


  2. Hi Donal, what were the conditions when you decided it too risky to swim for Newtown Head? Wave height? Incoming swell? No exit points? I remember swimming just past Newtown Cove once towards Newtown Head and didn’t like one bit how dark the waves on the horizon looked. Punching through two waves at that point gave me a jolt too with the shadows they were casting beneath the surface, took me a few seconds to figure out where the shadows were coming from:-) Didn’t go any further swam back to the Guillemene on an incoming tide.
    Best Regards.


    • Hey Sam,

      It’s a balance of risk. I know I could have swum out and back fine, but I considered the risk a bit high.

      There were three factors :

      1: 10C water
      2: 1.5 metre swell
      3: F3 onshore chop.

      None of them difficult, however the combination, especially the temp drop earlier than usual, in early November, led me the the decision I make every year as some point, where I only swim into the bay. (And I know the bay better than anyone else but other people will continue to swim outwards after I’ve stopped).

      Outside Newtown Cove there’s a reef that cause wave fronts to jack up sometimes, and there’s a sandbar in line with Newtown Head that also increases wave size over about a 50/100 metre distance.


  3. Great post – we’re feeling it at the Lido where the water is now at 7.5C. Glad the sauna is open or I wouldn’t be able to stay in half as long!


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