Just Get On With It In The Cold Water
“Just get on with it” is a saying used by members of the Serpentine Swimming Club, a group of hardened and eclectic swimmers, endurance athletes, fitness swimmers and triathletes based in London, England.
The headquarters of the Serpentine Swimming Club is located at the lido in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, open year-round. One of the Club’s regular events revolves around its Saturday morning handicap races, held at 8:00 am throughout the year.
“The first time that I saw swimmers going for a dip in the Serpentine was a snowy, cold day in February 2013,” recalled Steven Munatones. “I was in awe of these swimmers – I could not believe what they were doing. It was an early morning when the London fog blanketed Hyde Park; swimmers walked towards the Serpentine and without hesitation, they casually walked into the 1ºC water without hyperventilation or worries.
Irish-born and -bred John Tierney, one of the regulars who frequents the lido [shown above], said, “Isn’t it just lovely with the fog?” said Tierney that was more of a statement than a question.
His early morning crew included Ned Gammell who swam 4 lengths of the 110-yard course set on the banks of the 2012 London Olympic Games marathon swim. “I used to only swim in the summer…and then I met this crew. They convinced me to swim year-round,” smiled the Londoner who was pink-skinned, experiencing significant afterdrop. “It is cold, but it is really cold when you get cut by ice. But I go for a run afterward and warm up.”
The locker room of the Serpentine Swimming Club is functional and small. The showers used by the team are the same temperature as the Serpentine: cold, very cold. “And sometimes the lights don’t work. We just get on with it. We are a bit quirky here, but we have get a real camaraderie here, along with the Dunkirk spirit. Oh, and it is fantastic when it snows,” says William Delaszle, a regular from Oxford.
“I used to swim in Oxford in the River Thames. In the dark and almost got hit by boats twice. I thought it was crazy, so I decided to start swimming here,” explains Delaszle, a giant stock of a man who was a former Army officer.
The ability to handle the cold seems to come with the territory.
Bonnie Garmus, an American author and writer originally from California and now living in London [shown above], is a convert to the cold water swimming that is so popular throughout the United Kingdom. “Well, I like cold water swimming a lot. You know, actually, it’s the UK’s fault as I picked up that habit in the UK. I think you guys like to ‘do’ cold – cold water swimming, wild swimming, just in skins. So now unbelievably, I swim just in a swimsuit in the ponds in the winter, but then in the summer, I use a wetsuit for longer swims.”
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