President’s Sea Swim Blog # 4

12 June 2023

Friday 12th May.The crickets were rasping their legs together to make that luxurious sound. If they were to kick-harder, it would be even more exotic!

Sunday 14th May.Getting too lazy to swim anywhere else! Mind you, if we were to, I’d have to be with other folk and I’d hate to embarrass them. Little brown butterflies circled over the pool this morning. It was quite lovely to watch. Then wee blue ones like petals in a breeze pirouetted by. They reminded me of Morocco when I swam there. Maybe I will see a dragon fly soon like I did in Agadir?

Tuesday 16th May. Magpies flopped about from the trees to the grassy meadow. A cook cuckooed for ages. Small birds twittered from the branches. Ideal swimming conditions for someone so young as me.

Wednesday 17th May. The reason why I try to do my swims in multiples of eleven, is because I feel that number is neglected. I want to cheer it up. Also, it is just over 10% more achieved! This brings my total ever nearer. I am still told it’s too cold for swimming just now, and I should wait… I don’t have time to wait! JRS has time to achieve and little time to wait. Things must progress with all due speed, that is why we push to get our Road to The Arctic in place.

Saturday 20th May. Everyone says it is far too cold to swim. Trop froide. It was 19 degrees, which I regard as hot! I swam under a wee spout running from the lips of Atlas. It was a proper spout, not a dribble, slobber or spit. Most refreshing indeed.

22nd May, back in Puycalvel, I managed 555 strokes. I fully realise now that I was the first to plunge into this pool. Gilles, a keen swimmer, had spent months making it and getting it finally ready for our visit, working to the last minute for me to casually enter. I saw him take his first dip just before our Albi trip.

23rd May. Sigrid’s birthday. 444 strokes. A visit to Chateaux Caix, but missed the Danish Queen so I couldn’t ask her for a donation to our Road to The Arctic. But got the great news that The Birsay Energy Trust are sending us £10k! A great end to a day.

24th May. Sigrid’s unbirthday. Puycalvel 222 strokes. Hot sun, hot, hot, hot. Other folk are just beginning to put toes in the water.

25th May. Penultimate day. Puycalvel 222 strokes. Still hot! Can’t wait for the cool of Orkney and proper sea.

26th May. Ultimate day. Even HOTTER! Sun hats, cool drink.

1st June! Back to my beloved Orkney Ocean at Aikerness. The dunters were wating for me, an Arctic tern greeted me wit a screech and flypast and in the grey sea, a grey seal looking at me. Wading into the cold on the rippled sands, my bare feet feeling the natural textures was bliss. At waist depth, launching myself into the cold salty waters was bliss. All the built-up stresses vanish as the skin tingles.

Yes… It was cold. That great cold that surrounds and engulfs one, changing one’s comfort zone into another where you feel your whole body responding to the briny. As the chill penetrated and my ribs registered the temperature, I counted my strokes. Not being acclimatized back to the Orkney cool. I decided on 55 strokes before hypothermia began its course. It was enough. I’m much prepared for more later.

I called in at the Eviedale Bakery for a croissant to share. It was too early. The six a.m. News was on and all was deep in the ovens. I came home and am drinking a cup of hot Marmite…

– President of The John Rae Society, Andrew Appleby
Current Miles: 7753
6th Jan – 9th MayPierowall Bay, Bay of Firth, Birsay, Aikerness, Puycalvel France4645
12th MayPuycalvel222
16th May Purcalvel333
17th May Puycalvel333
20th May Albi444
22nd May Puycalvel555
23rd May Chateaux Cai444
24th MayPuycalvely222
25th MayPuycalvel222
26th MayPuycalvel 333