33/100 – Minehead Beach

I visit Minehead for the excellent OSS Nomad course. Meeting so many other people who all love the same thing is inspiring, and the knowledge on offer is precise, practical and delivered with humour. It covers health and safety, weather, tides, swell, equipment – all the things you need to take into account to plan a safe swim. Stepping outside to look at the beach in the morning, the tide is out. The sea is a distant line, separated from us by soggy looking sand and grass land.

When we return later, the water has appeared almost miraculously. Or so I’d think if I hadn’t just spent the day learning about tides!

Swimming with a group is not something I’m used to, but there’s a range of experience levels from seasoned winter swimmers in Speedos to newcomers out for their first wild wet-suited swim. Everyone follows the suggested triangle from shore to post to post and the grey water is filled with red swim hats and thrashing rubber arms.

The water on my cheekbones fills my sinuses. An ice cream headache rushes through my mind and stops its muttering. The water is steely but it doesn’t feel cold – my first wet-suited swim in a while. A hill rises at one end of the beach, forested and green, houses dotted up its height. Wooden groynes dissect the water at strategic points, like ribs mapping out a body.

I take my goggles up to my forehead and look around, turning onto my back to take it all in. There’s no one in the water who isn’t wearing a smile. I flip back onto my front. Because it’s an organised swim, there are a few paddle-boarders dotted around to keep an eye on us. No one is in the water that long, but everyone is red and laughing afterwards.

I’m raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Please sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/swimbonnieswim

I’d highly recommend the OSS Nomad course for anyone interested in open water swimming. Booking is available here: https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/nomad-basic-course/

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