Cold Water


Tooting Bec Lido is situated in a South London park. It’s huge, is almost two Olympic length pools end to end (100 yards long) and the width of a normal swimming pool.

It’s also unheated.

The fact that it’s unheated doesn’t deter the good people of London from taking a dip in winter, which is something I have managed to avoid due to being away most winters. This year however I decided to stay and face the music, which is a frosty tune I must say.

To start with I must say that I decided to spend a good deal of the English winter in England because I was actually starting to miss it. I used to cringe like a cowardly cur at the very thought of the cold seeping into my bones, but this winter I am distanced enough from jack Frost’s chilly paws to face winter with a smile. I’m ready.

A part of my rehabilitation was to get extreme, I mean I’m not willing simply to clutter about in a thick coat, I wanted to be able to cavort naked in the mid-winter fog like those brave souls at the South London Swimming Club, and here I am, at the end of October swimming in water that’s a chilly 10 degrees.

Now before you chortle at such warmth, let me tell you that it’s like being coated in razors at this temperature, let alone any colder.

I have researched to find popular wisdom this is how cold water swimming is divided:

  • 0-11 DEGREES: Freezing.
  • 12-16 DEGREES: Fresh.
  • 17-20 DEGREES: Summer swimming.
  • 21 DEGREES PLUS: Warm.
  • 30 DEGREES: Pool temperature.
So we’re firmly in the freezing bit, even though it’s not freezing!
I have a renewed respect for those poor souls unlucky enough to be dunked into the North Atlantic from the decks of the Titanic, it was -2 degrees at the time which is infinitely more cold than being out in freezing air (convections your chap when it comes to sapping heat).

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