Full Moon Swim – Getting Cold in the Cam

Yesterday was my first night swim.  a Facebook shout-out a week before had prompted 6 hardy souls to meet at the Riverbank Club on the Cam under the full moon. Philip Hodges, Tom Reed, Bryn Dymott and the Helens Gibbs and Liddle and I changed into togs, hat and goggles, before heading off to the Red Lion in Grantchester in one of the cars.  We were to swim down from Grantchester down to Newnham, where we left our clothes in ‘Ted’s Shed’.

A short walk across the meadows at the back of the Red Lion car park led us to the river, lit up beautifully by the moon.  The cold wet grass made my feet cold, so as we entered the water at an entry point usually used by cattle, the water felt pleasantly warm.  This came as a shock; the blackboard at the Riverbank had suggested that the river temperature had dropped a further 2C since Sunday, and was only 11C.

As we waded in and took the plunge though, it soon became clear that 11C was all too accurate.  This was a new temperature low for me.  The others were well used to these sorts of conditions, but judging by the noises, starting off was chilly for them too, after a long summer season of warmer temperatures.

This was quite a social swim, lots of chatting and head up breaststroke, interspersed with stretches of front crawl or butterfly (!) to help keep warm.  The moon did its best to light the way as it beamed down through the hazy cloud, but at times it was very dark under the tree-lined sections.

The water felt very cold at the beginning, but soon felt incredibly refreshing, purifying even, smooth and silky against the skin.

It was about 1.4 km to get back to the Riverbank Club, which probably took 40 minutes or so (I didn’t time it).  Getting dry and clothed was a hurried and clumsy affair in the semi-dark shed, only partially lit by Helen’s head torch.  I just managed to get that all done before the afterdrop caused the shivering to kick in.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening’s swimming, embracing some colder water than I have experienced before, and with some very lovely people.

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