COLD water snow swimming


“Crikey. Is that snow?” Amanda said, from the warmth of the Tooting Bec Lido café. We were having a cuppa to wait for the rain to subside, before our swim. Snow was not forecast.

‘Gordon Bennet.’ The last time I slipped into cold water was 3 weeks ago. Watching the light flutterings of snowflakes through the steamy cafe window was not helping my inner anxiety.

‘Right let’s go,’ Katie said, who’s the second half of @team_mermaids_uk. I fell in love with wild swimming during the #Urbanmermaid & have been looking to join others who do it too in their cold watering holes, since. This is where social media is excellent.

And what a watering hole Tooting Bec Lido is. At 100 yards long and 33 wide, it’s the 2nd biggest pool in Europe. Guy Richie even once used it to film a scene in Snatch.

Next Saturday, 1000 swimmers are descending on the lido for the UK Cold Water Champs. ‘What wimps,’ I originally thought, reading that one of the distances was only 30 yards. But, ‘aye caramba’, even if Brad Pitt had still been filming this morning, I wouldn’t have been able to slide into the 5-degree water in any cool manner at all.

‘Come on. Get in.’ Amanda said, casually half way down the pool, meanwhile I was still walking up and down the steps. One leg wanted to get in, but my right wanted to jump back into my trousers.

I trotted down to join them half way. ‘1-2-just bloody do it-3.’ I yelped and shrieked and wailed as I plonked myself into the painfully cold water.

‘Breathe slowly. In-and-out,’ Katie said. I did look like I was about to give birth, as I gasped for air, shocked by the cold. I lasted a mere 20metres before having to get out, watching in envy as the girls smiled and chatted, calmly stroking another 92m length.

The reward for the Tooting swimmers is a toasty sauna, where 12 beaming faces all huddled to get warm. Some had done 800m.

‘Oh, He can do a lot more than that too,’ @barefootbronnie said pointing to a guy who heading back into the lido. She invited me for another dip, and feeling the need to redeem myself, I went back out.

Thanks for having me today @team_mermaids_uk I spent the rest of the day invigorated and feeling rather wonderful.

#coldwaterswimming is truly magical ❤️