I am looking forward to the annual Christmas Day swim for Bude Surf Life Saving Club. Kind of. My daughter Emma and I have been doing it for the last 2 years, and it seems to have become embedded in our ritual for the day. It’s a great way to do something worthwhile (raising money for a charity) with a huge (several hundred strong) group of similarly committed and slightly mad people, watched and supported by several thousand onlookers all dressed up in their newly unwrapped winter woolies, before racing home in our wet swimgear, swigging Amaretto from a hip flask as we go, hurling ourselves into a hot bath and letting the festivities begin. The healthy glow of having done something altruistic before the orgy of self indulgence is way better than the glow you get from the log fire, I can assure you.
The thing is, this year it promises to be more of a challenge than usual. The air temperature forecast for Christmas Day is -4°, with a sea temperature of 9°. This morning the air is so cold that there is what looks like steam coming off the sea, a phenomenon I haven’t seen before. It is tempting to say it’s too cold, and it would be foolhardy to take part. We must be mad.
Maybe so, but we are determined to go ahead. We’re using a range of mental techniques to get ourselves in a fit state to take part, which I thought you might find helpful next time you feel a bit daunted by a challenge. Here they are:
1. Visualisation. This well known technique involved visualising ourselves enjoying it, doing it successfully, and the feeling of what it will be like afterwards when we jump in the bath having peeled off the semi-frozen swimming gear. Bliss, what a feeling that will be!
2. Blanking out. Do not allow ourselves to even consider how cold the beach pebbles will feel on our feet whilst we’re standing around waiting the for the distress flare to go off (our signal for a 200m sprint into the icy waters). Don’t think about the shock to the system, the gasp for air, the blueness of the skin when you run back up the beach. Don’t even go there.
3. Logic. Use our left brains to remember that there are hundreds of others doing it, we know that it is survivable, it only lasts a few minutes, and we have made a choice to do it. There is no coercion involved, and we know we have made a good choice. There is a reason for doing it, and others will benefit.
4. See the bigger picture. Instead of focussing on the detail of the unpleasantness, remind ourselves of why we are doing it, and the benefit it will bring to others. A bit of discomfort is helpful to us to be reminded of what’s important in life. This will be a useful way to help us keep things in perspective at this time of year when selfishness can be worse than usual.
5. Dig deep for extra resources. One way to get through this is by digging deep inside, to find extra resources in a time of pressure. I always hear myself and most others roaring and shouting as we hurl ourselves in. We race down the beach, and get in there as fast as we can. It is not a moment to try and acclimatise. Go for it 110% and you will be fine. It’s funny how much animal resource you can find deep down when you have to.
Watch out for the video of the day on YouTube (on my mikebrown007 Channel): I shall be trying out my Flip video underwater camera case this year, so the footage promises to be even better than last year’s!
If you are feeling charitable and haven’t been completely drained of all your seasonal goodwill, a small sponsorship donation would be much appreciated. Post a comment (below) and include your email address and I’ll point you in the right direction!
Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous Christmas. See you next year.