It started with the idea of trying to evoke a sense of what means to be suspended in a world of very cold water. What this meant for me as I grieve the death of my son and how with this new addiction I have found the space to search deeper into what it really means to live with such a loss. You may have read about this in my earlier posting Swimming through Grief
But within just a few weeks of preparatory filming, the film and the project has now become a bit more of a challenge – I am going to attempt an ICE MILE. That means swimming for a mile in water temperatures below 5°C …. without a wetsuit. I have swum this distance and more in a suit and in temperatures as low as 10°C but an Ice Mile is a totally different ball game. And it’s going to need a serious amount of training to get there. But for me it’s this very process of getting to the level of fitness required to achieve this feat that is more interesting and in the end more valuable than the target itself. Grief after all is not a one off event.
The idea of an Ice Mile (yes you might well ‘smile’!) came about after I had met two curious gentlemen at the lake where I often swim. You can see something of this encounter in the video clip below – suffice it to say I am so pleased to share these new friendships with you. They are my inspiration and they will be my guides / trainers as I prepare for the challenge.
An Ice Mile is a fully accredited event governed under the rules of the International Ice Swimming Association and with water temperatures in this country rarely dropping below 10°C for most of the year, my attempt is planned for early in January 2019. What I’m hoping to do is to train regularly through the seasons as the temperature rises and then drops and then by taking in some of the more iconic wild swimming locations across the UK including Clevedon tidal pool, Crummock water, the Rivers Dart and Waveney and any one of hundreds of lochans in Scotland, I hope to provide a sense of how varied and beautiful open water swimming can be.
TELL ME AGAIN – WHY?
There’s a poem by David Whyte that goes some way to answering the question. Grief and cold water, very cold water do have a lot in common, mostly in the sense of being alien environments that one would not normally choose to enter. But they are what they are and by voluntarily subjecting myself to it’s extremes I’m thinking that perhaps I can regain some agency in a life that has been thrown into such confusion. When Josh died, he lost his life (I know that sounds obvious) and I lost a son. But I also lost that part of me that was his Dad, something that has rocked me profoundly, in a way forcing me to reconsider my own sense of self. So diving into icy waters could mirror this existential challenge and who knows what I might find.
Do you have a story to tell how wild or cold water swimming has helped you? Can you articulate why you love it. What is it about immersing yourself in very cold water that thrills you? Are you looking to find your way out of depression or like me does it help you with your grief?
If any of the above applies we’d love to hear from you? The documentary is produced by BEYOND GOODBYE MEDIA and we are looking for around four or five stories to help illustrate the extraordinary wonders of wild swimming and those who do it.
Your involvement in the project will mean a commitment of 2 to 3 filming days at different times throughout the year. We would need to visit you at to your home and your swimming locations and you must be prepared to talk on camera about any difficulties, mental issues, or traumas that have led you to seek comfort and sustenance from swimming in the wild.