Sunday Morning Mutterings – Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water…

As my friends and family will readily agree, I’ve done some pretty foolish things in my time, usually late at night and undoubtedly with alcohol involved.

Since my, ahem, ‘lifestyle change’ of a few years ago (You did Dry January? Welcome to my world) I've decided to ‘put something back’ whenever I can. This is why I usually say yes when I’m asked to get involved with charity events. Normally this involves me flinging on a clean shirt and acting as MC for the night.

So when I took a call from Virginia Macari asking me if I wanted to get involved with an event that the Collective Calling charity were organising to help children in Tanzania, I immediately said yes. I anticipated dusting off the diner jacket once again.

Which just goes to show that I should enquire more thoroughly before agreeing to do something.

This event was a little different.

It was a 200m sponsored swim.

In the Mediterranean.

In January.

The last time that I went in the water in January was to celebrate my birthday. There was snow on La Concha – which should have perhaps warned me that it was going to be a ‘little chilly’ – and when I dived it was so cold that I certain parts of my anatomy retracted at a rapid rate. So far and fast in fact that I had two round lumps on the top of my head where my man jewels had shot up and rebounded off the inside of my skull.

Any thought that I might undertake the swim wearing nothing but a pair of swimming trunks were soon ruled out by two factors. The first was the advice of a Romanian yachting friend who explained that, as I’m not exactly in my teens anymore, ‘cold water shock’ might actually induce a heart attack.

The second was perfectly clear at the Press call for the event, when I found myself standing next to a group of ‘ripped’ crossfitters who where also taking part in the event. No amount of chest puffing out and stomach holding in was going to help me here. A quick call to a friend who runs regular canyoning trips soon sorted me out with a wetsuit.

After several days of torrential rain, the day itself was beautiful and sunny and a sizable crowd gathered to watch the event. After saying hello to the organisers, I casually slipped away to shoehorn myself into the wetsuit – no easy task, I can assure you. But when I looked over my shoulder I saw in horror that the rest of the charity swimmers were already in the water. I yelled, charged through the crowd and crashed into the surf with all the grace of an oil tanker being launched.

Once again the water was freezing and I had the ignominy of being the last one back on the beach. But as I gulped a life reviving café solo I could reflect on a job well done.

And at least no one had mistaken my floundering form for a cetacean and alerted the Norwegian Whaling Fleet

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