24th Challenge complete

Approaching Shag RockThe outdoor swims I’ve done lately have had a slight element of not wanting to be there, whether that has been to finish a bit quicker or that I was cold and didn’t like it and wanted to go home and have a cup of tea. They were all great experiences but I had a niggling feeling that something was missing: a certain amount of joy. My swim to an island changed all that and I’ve got a theory as to why.

I met up with Gary and Claire and members of Happy Wild Swimming – a group who go swimming purely for the joy of swimming outdoors – in Torquay. With their expert local and marine knowledge they knew when it was best to tackle the reasonably short but challenging swim to Shag Rock, just off Meadfoot Beach. On the day we chose, the sea was lively to say the least but with the beautiful Mediterranean sunshine it was hard to cry off.

Five of us waded into the waves and headed off towards the island. Okay, it’s technically a rock not an island but a small landmass surrounded by water is a good enough definition for my challenge.

The water was a lovely clear bluey-green and I was able to put my head in the water for longer than I ever have before to do the front crawl. The sea threw us up and down like we were on a rollercoaster but thanks to Gary & Claire’s positive light-hearted attitude I didn’t feel scared at all, just exhilarated.

Shag Rock successAfter 10 minutes or so we reached Shag Rock. The waves were really crashing against it and I didn’t think we’d be able to actually land on it but, after some coercing from Gary, I managed to sit on a rock at the edge of the island with him and get the money shot before the waves pummeled us off our perch.

We swam round the island and reluctantly headed back to shore, covered in seaweed and scratches but euphoric after our shared adventure.

So what put the joy into this swim? It wasn’t particularly the scenery or the ticking off of another challenge, it was the company, the shared camaraderie and the positive, joyous attitude of all the swimmers.