It started, as it always does, with an off-season trip to Curracloe Beach. Usually, I stay on the sand wrapped in layers, letting the December wind touch only my nose and fingertips. This time around, I took it all off. First my hat and scarf and gloves and coat. Then my jumper and pants and top. This was no regular striptease. It was the annual St. Stephen’s day Charity Swim!
The funny thing is this: I am a pussycat when it comes to the cold. I routinely complain when the temperatures drops at all here (in the desert!). The AC is never on in my apartment and when I visit friends, I’m always armed with slipper socks and a hoodie. Temperatures are creeping into the 30s at this time of year, but I still go to bed with a hot water bottle every single night. I also have this circulatory problem called Raynaud’s Disease that causes my fingers and toes to turn completely white (like a corpse’s) in the cold…
…so, I was expecting this to be hard.
What I wasn’t expecting was how amazing it would feel too. There was this buzzing atmosphere where everyone was nervous but psyched to be there. My brother, Richie and a bunch of my relatives decided to do it too and an even bigger bunch showed up to clap us on the back afterwards.
I had tried to imagine what the water would feel like a hundred times before the day (I fretted so much- it consumed me!). I was surprised that when the time finally came, stripping off was actually the coldest part. The sand is icy-cold and I distinctly remember the feeling of the wind biting my ribcage. But after you do a crazy-girl run into the sea, the water feels strangely warm once you’re submerged. Anyone who knows science might explain this to me?
It is (one of) the most invigorating natural highs I’ve ever experienced. Honestly, I didn’t even want to get out when we did. I could have swam and whooped and high-fived for at least another five minutes. When we did, there was our Mama Bear holding out my trusty hot water bottle wrapped in a fluffy towel. And there was our sister Fiona with a flask of delicious hot chocolate. Hooray for nice people! And hooray for raising money for a great cause (Wexford Hospice)!