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First sea swim across open water!

Pinnacles on the mainland in Northumberland, across the open sea to Holy Island, a 1500m swim (just under a mile) through crystal clear water on a sunny, calm September day.

As I said in my post yesterday, I have been gradually getting more confident in the sea, but one thing I had yet to do was a swim from one piece of land to another, over the open sea. I have swum quite far out from the actual shore I suppose, but always at a place where I could swim to nearby rocks if I wanted to get out. Swimming across open sea is a biggie for me, as of course this is where the bigger beasts of my imagination lurk. The ever knowledgeable Jane suggested this swim, which covers nearly a mile but is over relatively shallow water where you can see the bottom on a good day. Obviously, you can’t actually touch the bottom but you can see. And of course, it is a stunning place to swim, sighting on the ancient Lindisfarne Castle on the shoreline.

The day was absolutely perfect weather wise, no wind, no clouds and a big bright summer sun. We met on the harbour side at 7:30am, all of us ready in our swimming gear. Most chose to wear full wetsuits, due to the possible cold (as we didn’t know how long it would take), and the good old jellyfish that are still hanging around. Jane and Alison wore skins (just swimming costume), Frances wore a swimming costume with long sleeve top and leggings, while I wore my shortie wetsuit. Frances and I also opted to slather ourselves in a 5 inch layer of anti-jellyfish cream, Frances as she is allergic to the little buggers, and me just because being stung is a pain in the ass. We noticed as we arrived at the Pinnacles (a section of land which juts out slightly, on which there are 2 large tower...thingys) that the water was full of seals. And by full, I mean you could hardly see the water in between them, there must have been hundreds of them all bobbing about in the waves, popping up and down to have a closer looks at the rib boat. This meant we were going to be surrounded by them as we swam! Very exciting!

Now one of the good things about open water swimming, is that you can have a wee in the water and no one can see or care. It‘s the unspoken rule of open water swimming that you wee in the water, before you get back out. Nearly all of us on board were mums....and nearly all of us were desperate for the as soon as we jumped in whatever was left in our bladders that hadn’t been bounced out by the rib ride, was expelled with an almost audible sigh of relief from the gang. Being a mum is ever so glamorous, even decades later....

We all pulled on our matching orange and blue Stoma Chameleon hats, jumped in, had a wee and were ready for the off! Jane set off first,bravely swimming towards the seals which were all in a massive group right in front of her, watching with avid interest at the strange brightly clad creatures who were now in the water with them. Seals aren’t stupid though, and as she swam nearer, they all ducked under the sea and re-surfaced a few metres further away to watch our approach, before ducking and moving back again as Jane led the way. They were like aquatic cows, without the mooing or massive cow pats - always good as it’s not something you’d want to swallow. Actually...seal pooh...that must have been in the water, too! But I’d didnt see any. Not sure what it looks like either! Ug. Sometimes it’s better not to think about things too much eh.....

We all swam in a pod towards the Castle, and despite me wearing the equivalent of blackout blinds for goggles, I was able to see that the water was indeed clear, and the bottom had lots of kelp patches too. As we neared the Castle, the water got a little choppier, and we all definitely started swallowing more water (do NOT think of seal poo, do NOT think of seal poo). After a very swift 32 minutes we made it to the shore! We think we were helped by the tide a little as it felt much easier than expected, but what a buzz! To look back and see the piece of land we had just swum from, then turn round and see the magnificent castle behind us, all bathed in glorious sunshine. Just WOW.

The rib pulled over and we swam the few metres over to it and clambered on board. I started my live Facebook feed for the blog...and at that moment Jane, who clearly had forgotten the Unspoken Open Water Wee Rule, shouted “ah god, I forgot to have a wee!”...all caught on camera, which caused immense hilarity and piss taking (sorry, couldn’t resist) when we rewatched it later.

On the way back, Alan the captain did some VERY fast donuts, right in front of Bamburgh Castle, causing us all to laugh and shriek...but hopefully not wee...

It was a fantastic morning from start to finish. Colin colostomy didn’t cause any issues at all, as I made sure to get up early and eat well before I left the house, to give him time to do his Thing. The weather, location and company were all fantastic. What a way to tick a challenge off!

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