Happy New Year (even though it’s mid-Feb already)! I’ve written several drafts in the past few weeks and not posted them, so here is a summary:
I’ve made it as far as the 3rd swim buoy in Wellington Harbour (about a 2km round trip). A round trip to the lighthouse (Point Jerningham) is over 3km so I may not make it there this summer but as I keep reminding myself, the goal is to have fun and I’m pleased with my progress.
Two years of sea swimming and I know the rhythms now: the ease of summer swims, evening swims, more people in the water, the salps and moon jellyfish (I’ve only seen the odd one but others I know have swum through soupy ‘smacks’ of dozens of them), the more stingy lion’s manes (which I haven’t seen at all but kind of want to, from a distance, because they are beautiful – just look at these Insta pics taken locally by @erinoftheocean). Swim coach Barb advises us to glide over any jellyfish and not thrash about, to avoid tentacles.
The water is warmer than previous summers: about 19°C. Which worries me. But I’ve been enjoying the longer swims, especially swimming around the buoys in Worser Bay – about an 800m loop – some evenings. The other night the water there was so flat it was like a lake. And it has been so great to always have other people to swim with! Occasionally I go to the beach alone for a splash around and that’s nice, too.
A few Sundays ago I swam the 1km option in the annual ‘Swim the Lighthouse’ event. Last summer I did the 500m. Even though I swim in the harbour for free and the event is sort of gimmicky (I don’t need another branded swim cap), I like the excitement in the air, the feeling of officially crossing a finish line. Barb was there and when I asked her advice she said I wasn’t going to win, so to just enjoy it which was the point. She was right; not only did I not win, I was one of the last to finish! Not so far behind that they were packing up the gear and about to rescue me, but still… maybe I was too relaxed!
I attended a full moon swim last week. It’s been ages since I did one, mostly for weather reasons but also from feeling a bit lazy by 9pm and invested in TV time. We didn’t quite time our swim to coincide with moonrise but were still on the beach for it. And it was a lovely, warm swim in dark blue water at the place we used to call Wild Swimmers’ Cove until we discovered its real name, which is less evocative. It had been a while since I just bobbed in the water, and it was great.
Yesterday I swam out with a group to Steeple Rock, which is only 300m offshore but can be dangerous for divers (and, historically, ships) because of strong currents. I would never swim there on a choppy day but the sea was completely flat so it was easy. There is a lot of tall seaweed around the rock, very pretty but I didn’t want to get tangled in it.
Other 2023 water goals: try a weekday morning harbour swim (7am) with the Washing Machines. I’ve joined their WhasApp group, so it’s a start! Keep doing longer swims throughout the year, even if it means wearing a wetsuit sometimes. Perhaps another event in another town.
I’m booked in for a snorkel at Kāpiti Island in late Feb with Mountains to Sea. Kāpiti Island is 20km², about 45 minutes’ drive (plus boat ride) away and it’s a nature reserve. I’m excited because a) I’ve never been to Kāpiti Island and b) Mountains to Sea’s community snorkels are great because they supply all the gear and have guides, and c) I’ll get to see the marine reserve!
What I’m listening to: the podcast/radio series Our Changing World had an episode about sea sponges.
I have had many 'dips' this summer but not what I classify as 'swims'.
You are quite remarkable.