Before the days of pushchairs and pampers I was very choosy about when I would swim in the sea around the Isle of Wight. The conditions needed to be ideal - a baking hot day and not a lot of wind. I would frequently sit on the sand whilst everyone else pretended they weren't painfully cold at Hanover Point.
That all changed when two things happened.
Firstly, I discovered wet suits. Or more specifically I discovered that I could wear a wet suit in the water without looking silly as long as I was holding a bodyboard. You don't really need to use it, it's just a prop so that it looks like you are wearing the suit for reasons of sport and chafing rather than because you are a bit girly and don't like the cold.
Secondly, my opportunities for swimming in the sea became much rarer as we became frequent tourists rather than residents and had to start fitting swims around naps and early bedtimes.
And so I found myself with ice cold water rapidly racing towards The Danger Zone (just below my waist) on the Easter weekend with rain drizzling down and not a whiff of sunshine.
Needless to say, it was cold because, to be honest, it is always pretty cold, even in summer. But thanks to my wet suit it wasn't actually unbearable... For about two minutes anyway.
My fellow swimmers stayed in a little longer, even the one who went in wearing nothing but a flimsy pair of shorts and swore like a sailor for five solid minutes. He also emerged with self inflicted scratch marks on his chest - presumably he was trying to distract the rest of his body from feeling cold.
Now, I know there are 78 year old men who swim every single day in the sea and don't make even the tiniest bit of fuss, but I'm afraid that's just not normal and there are some parts of my body which would vehemently agree.
My previous rule was that sea swimming around the Isle of Wight is legitimate from May 1st until mid September with a wetsuit, or from around mid June until late August without a wetsuit.
I'm very proud to say that I have now stretched the season considerably and declare that sea swimming is just about bearable from Easter, until late September.
Come on in, the water's lovely-ish.
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