Thursday, 10 July 2014

Even when cloudy, swimming outdoors brings sunshine to your day

I’ve found a new addiction. It’s swimming in the great outdoors. And it has to be cold. And I’m gutted it has taken me until now – at the grand middle age of 41 – to find out how amazing this simple, in many cases free, pastime really and truly is.

When living in Britain, although I have always greatly enjoyed a swim, it never once occurred to me to go swimming in a river and although I enjoyed frequenting an outdoor pool during my teens, once this had closed I never again lived anywhere near an open pool (as so many others also sadly closed in the 1990s- why? why? why?)

It wasn’t until I moved to Devon in 2012 that I discovered the thrill of open water swimming, namely the sea at Sidmouth and the delightful Buddleigh Salterton. But of course, however wonderful swimming in these locations was, the swell of the sea, which was often fairly violent onto a sharply upturned pebbled beach, meant an incredibly undignified and often quite painful entry and exit each time. But it was still wonderful – I even spotted a seal popping his head above the water one morning!

And although I sorely miss the sea now living in this landlocked country, the pain is hugely compensated for by the ease with which I can once again reap the benefits of a cold, outdoor dip. Within 10 miles of our house, there are no less than ten wonderfully equipped outdoor swimming pools and a bundle of beautifully clear lakes (including the centre of Zurich) where I am encouraged to swim, with accompanying café, beach, toilet and shower facilities.

My favourite haunt right now (especially for the FKK area when the kids are at school) is Katzensee (see below) a wonderfully wild lake which is instantly accessible from the motorway and has a lovely shallow entry for ease of access. If I am short of time, it has to be the outdoor pool at Toss, which I often have to myself if it is overcast. The water was just 21 degrees this morning and after quickly recovering from the cold I enjoyed a half hour swim which set me up for the day – my skin is still tingly as I write this at 10pm. I honestly feel this is the best cure for depression – I challenge anyone to feel miserable after a cold swim!

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