Thank you, intrepid wild swimmers!

August 17, 2017

Thank you, intrepid wild swimmers!

Water commands respect, as all divers know.
We also know that the first thing water requires is the ability to swim and to be a proficient scuba diver that is a non negotiable skill. Plus, swimming is a lot of fun and a great form of exercise. It can be social too, something I recently discovered. 

A couple of weeks ago an awesome swimmer called Wendy Procter bought one of our ponchos. Shortly after a few of her friends followed suit and we literally went "Wow, we didn't think our products would be so perfect for swimmers!"

We also received a poncho order from another truly cool swimmer called Jenny Landreth. Her email signature was an image from the cover of a book she recently wrote - Swell. I immediately bought a copy!

The book is called "her waterbiography", a story about her endless love for water and swimming. I'm half way through and loving it. 

This little post is our “thank you” to all those bold, wild open water swimmers!

Jenny's book is opening a door to a world that, as in Italian who's lived in the UK for just 15 years, I didn't know it even existed. The joys and challenges of swimming in pretty basic lidos, cold lakes and murky sea is rather unknown to me and totally fascinating.

I'm learning that British women in the past were not even allowed to swim and that swimming eventually became a liberating, empowering experience. 

For me, coming from a country where mum & dad would take you to the beach every summer to swim in a friendly, warm sea under a hot sun, this is a wonderful story of determination and endurance. Girls like Jenny put up with a lot in order to enjoy swimming but that obviously made them stronger, better prepared and better accustomed to lack of comforts. 
Myself, my twin brother and my dad on the beach in the mid '60s.I don't look too happy!
With Daddy at the beach
In Italy we have a great tradition of swimming and diving (as in the sport of diving) but I don't think we do cold water very well. Compared to British swimmers we are a bunch of wimps :-)!

The ability to swim and to enjoy swimming is almost invariably connected to our childhood experience of water. If we had a good one, we'd probably love water and might even take up free diving or scuba diving. If we had a mediocre one, we'd probably just like to splash around in the sea, making sure our feet touch the bottom and there's no seaweed grazing our legs (far too scary, what if it’s a shark?!). If we had a bad one, we might as well not even like to get wet. 

As a kid I was taken to the local pool to get swimming lessons very early on. In Italy swimming is not taught in schools, unlike a lot of schools here in the UK. When I asked our model Sasha how she learned to swim she lit up and quickly answered "at primary school!” - she was lucky and she had a great experience. Probably not all British kids are equally lucky and that's a shame.

My memories of swimming in the sea were tainted by the insanely primordial fear of all Italian mums…getting wet after eating. Because “you can die” if you get wet after breakfast or lunch and you should at least wait for 2 hours to let your stomach digest food properly. So I would go down to the beach and stare at the sea, counting the seconds to the fateful 11 o’clock, when I was finally allowed to get in the water. 

Once I stopped going on holiday with my family the first thing I would do was to get on the beach, put my things down and run into the sea, no matter what I had or had not eaten. I pretty much still do that to these days!

Swimming in the sea is exhilarating. No set course, no aisles, no chlorine, no people and no set distance to cover. As a child it gave me a sense of freedom and joy. Nobody was even looking at me, which on an Italian beach or pool is quite something (everyone stares at you, like it or not).
I used to swim on my own, within my limits and only when the sea was calm, therefore I always felt safe. Sometimes I would swim wearing fins, because speed was great fun too.

I really wished I had one of our ponchos back then…instead we had to change out of our swimwear using wooden cabins on the edge of the beach, so hot and smelly inside! We also had large and heavy cotton towels, which would get wet, collect sand and would take an entire afternoon to get dry. Microfibre came as a bit of a blessing at some point, lightweight and quick-dry. Our DS Dry Towel is just the perfect size for the beach and our Hair Towel could be very handy too.

As a girl I used to wear funny cover-ups to go the beach and I had t be careful not to get them wet with my dripping long hair. Our DS Dry kaftan would have been useful.

My swimming skills are still good and I often fantasise about living on a beach and going for a morning swim in the sea. 
Of course I could join one of the many London swimming clubs but I’m still too much of a lazy Italian wimp after all!

Once again, thank you all, intrepid swimmers, you are an inspiration!