According to Maika, in Japan if the sea temperature plunges below 23C, competitive swimming is called off. Oh dear, I told her, if that were the case here in the north of England, we’d never go near the sea.
We were on our way to the Wrong Side of the Pennines for ridiculously inexpensive Blackpool Airshow 10km (£1 a mile, that’s my kind of entry fee) and had promised our Japanese friend that we’d swim in the sea afterwards. Not competitively, just for fun, so her 23C rule didn’t apply.
I wasn’t sure how wise a promise that was as I well remembered childhood holidays to Blackpool when the Irish Sea was so cold it was like grabbing hands squeezing the life out of my skinny little legs. I couldn’t wait to get out and resume my futile quest to build a sandcastle that would withstand the advancing tide, I don’t need to tell you how that panned out. Remembering the cold, I did wonder about purchasing a wet suit or maybe a dry suit for this little swim, but was pretty sure that would be seen as being over the top.
Maika is earning her Yorkshire stripes, having eaten mucky fat and Fat Rascals, supped real ale and gained her certificate in Intermediate Tyke, mastering weather-related phrases including ‘it’s coming down like stair rods’ when it’s raining hard and ‘I’m nithered’, meaning it’s rather cold. We’d warned her that the water may not be near 23C, in fact a nithering 13C was a more realistic temperature. She confesses she’s nesh (soft), or certainly was before her stay in God’s Own County, there has been a certain amount of acclimatisation to our soggy, cool climate.
With the run done, we picked up our swimming costumes and skipped down to the sea, the tide was on its way in so we made sure our dry clothes were on the sea wall, I didn’t fancy seeing my underwear bobbing up and down on the waves as they made their way across the Irish Sea.
Maika and Noel were straight in, none of this splashy-splashy toe-in, toe-out faffing. In fact I was a little worried that they’d set off to swim all the way to Ireland, Maika is a seriously good swimmer and I wouldn’t put it past her to have a go, if only to rescue our clothes if they were washed away. I watched, I had an excuse, I had the camera. But being a gentleman, Noel came back and offered to hold the camera so that I didn’t miss out. Gee, thanks…
But as it turned out, the water was rather warm and the swimming was lovely. Unfortunately the advancing tide had its eye on our dry clothes and we had to head back pretty sharp. I could have stayed in for hours, well, several minutes at least, but it certainly made me want to swim in the sea again, which is just as well, because we’ve promised to take Maika to swim in as much of the water around the UK as we can – plus the inland lakes. Maybe that wetsuit isn’t such a bad idea after all..