Dedham Mill Pond (Day 358)

For the last few months, ever since we booked our trip to England for Christmas, I’ve been delving into local swimming groups in order to map out the swims that would carry me through the tail end of my year of swimming. I was delighted when I discovered the Colchester Bluetits. 

The Bluetits Chill Swimmers Ltd is a worldwide group whose goal is “to create a capable, confident community through cold water swimming.” With chapters all over the world, the Bluetits are spreading a love of community and cold water swimming in joyous, inclusive, judgment-free ways. If you love wild swimming and don’t already know about the Bluetits, I encourage you to check them out:

I joined the Facebook group for the Colchester chapter of the Bluetits a few months ago and have been following their swimming shenanigans ever since, increasingly excited for my chance to join them. Today was the day. 

Kevin and I woke up early and drove over to the sweet village of Dedham (where we spent a memorable Christmas twenty years ago in a quaint rental cottage) to meet up with a group swimming in the River Stour.

It was hard to believe it was the same river I failed to swim in yesterday; here, it is much narrower, rambling through the woods and village, under bridges and past fields. 

We arrived early and chatted with the swimmers as they arrived; all were warm and welcoming, many giving us great big hugs. Swimmers are the nicest people. Soon, the gang had gathered and we made our way into the water.

Someone said it was 6 degrees (I didn’t bring my thermometer), which felt right. It was hard to get in, but once I was in, I felt great. I wore my gloves this time (and booties) and my woolly cap. 

The river was running very fast, but it was shallow so standing up and walking was always a possibility. I spent some time swimming against the current. It was like being in one of those exercise pools where you swim and swim and hardly move. We did move, though; slowly upstream where the river widens into a mill pond and lock. Then, the river carried us back. 

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