A winter’s swimming

I have spent Saturdays plunging into green, frigid water. Though not what some visitors to the Men’s Pond in Highgate would call a regular, I’m there often enough to get used to, and love, the cold. This winter has been extra long, and extra cold. Here are a few pictures.

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January 1. The waters of the Fleet that gather in these ponds offer renewal and hope for the year ahead. Note the presence of the sun in this picture: it has not been seen often.

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Not everyone wanted to bid farewell to winter. As February rolled into March signs of Spring were evident in slowly warming water. The lifeguard who wrote this sign got his wish: winter came back and temperatures cooled again.

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‘There aren’t any women here, are they?’ John Cleese need not normally worry, the Men’s Pond is usually true to its name. On this Saturday Ladies from the (where else) Ladies Pond were invited along. I envied their staying power in the water though to be honest some of them dilly-dallied about getting in.

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Anyone who’s been through the endless British winter of 2013 knows how snowy it has been. I should have known that at some point I’d have a snowy swim. This was the marvellous scene as I got changed, alone for once. Believe it or not the water was warmer than it ad been for some time.

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My sole concession to the cold water, neoprene gloves, kept my fingers warm but the snow numbed my feet as I walked along the jetty.

What a wonderful winter. The pond is civilisation, tranquility and wide-eyed wonder at nature.

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