Just look at this sunrise! Gaze upon that incredible, flat water.
No wonder Victoria is teeming with lovers of cold water.
I found a few swimming groups when I was planning my trip and a lovely woman named Catherine invited me to swim with her at 7:30 this morning. After my slightly nervous solo swimming these last few days, I was very grateful for Catherine’s warm welcome. Early this morning I excitedly plugged Willow Beach into my map and raced over as the sun was rising. I could see the pinks and purples in the distance and was desperate to get to the beach in time to witness the brilliance firsthand. I needn’t have worried: the colors lingered, shifting from purple to pink to golden.
I met Catherine and her swim friends who were all wonderful and welcoming. There were an impressive number of other swimmers at the beach as well. A group was just getting out as I arrived; many others arrived once we were in. There wasn’t a wetsuit in sight; woolly caps, some swim socks, and gloves, but everyone in bathing suits. Some swam, others immersed themselves in the cold water and soaked in the sunrise. It was an incredibly peaceful scene.
I felt a bit of trepidation as I got in—I ditched the wetsuit this morning and so this would be my coldest water experience yet. But it was pure exhilaration. The water was clear and calm and just seemed to welcome me into its freezing embrace. I wanted to laugh hysterically, but being with new people I refrained. It felt glorious. Eventually, my hands began to ache, but the rest of me tingled only with aliveness.
We bobbed and floated and watched the sun continue its majestic arrival. After about ten minutes (I messed up my watch so I don’t actually know how long), most of the gang went back in and Catherine and I swam further out. I kind of felt like I could go forever, but I also felt like I was probably getting too cold, so we made our way back to shore.
It was a perfect swim and, again, I’m grateful for this swim challenge. So many incredible moments I wouldn’t have experienced without it.