The sheer beauty of winter swimming is encapsulated in these photos. The changing landscapes throughout the seasons, the sudden dips in the weather, the cold, the mist, the ice and snow, all shown here documenting our long solitary winter sojourn. The extreme cold ‘bite’ of the water against our skin, the sudden flood of warmth as our frozen limbs acclimatise, the breathtaking views, the ducks and swans surrounding us, at one with their natural habitat. This is why we do it.
Swimming an average of five times a week throughout the winter, with all the COVID restrictions, has proved challenging but not impossible for the brave Marvels. With water temperatures hitting 0.5 degrees in the New Year, they have doggedly sailed forth, swimming in local lakes and in the river Thames, sometimes only managing a four minute dip in the extreme cold! With water so close to freezing point ice was lapping at the edges, it has been important to stay safe and not overdo it. Hot water bottles, dry robes and flasks at the ready, this crazy crew have persisted in their training, waiting patiently for warmer weather and longer swims. However, there are huge advantages to winter swimming – the peace and quiet, breathtaking landscapes, early sunsets and moonlit swims, the ‘bite’ of the cold water, no duck fleas and no boats! Roll on summer but we will be sad to leave the close camaraderie and gentleness of those winter forays behind us for another year.
The most important part of cold water swimming – tea and the warm up April 2021.
In the snow at Medmenham April 2021
Vicky and Lee showcase our new Marvels swim hats! Shiplake March 2021.
Vicky and Rebecca at the Pot March 2021.
Vicky and Lee at Shiplake March 2021.
Marika and Vicky Marsh lock late February 2021.
Liz training in the snow up north – now thats commitment Jan 2021
And proof Liz actually got in in Jan 2021
Floods at the Flower Pot, Aston early 2021.
So cold you gotta wear a woolly hat!! New Year 2021.
Oh no!! Mud…..Alaine and Rebecca late 2020.
This is where it all started…..
The Thames Marvels were born from the Henley Open Water Swimming Club or HOWSC, where 5 of us are members, Liz heralds from further north, but despite the distance is inextricably wedded to the team through our shared love of open water swimming, and of course this challenge. The team were initially inspired by the Henley Mermaids, another relay team of 5 stellar women who managed to conquer the English Channel in under 18 hours in July 2020.
Through several discussions, we began putting a team together in June 2020, during the pandemic, and so the Thames Marvels came to be. Miraculously our names spell MARVEL – Marika, Alaine, Rebecca, Vicky, Elizabeth and Lee. How cool is that!
Apart from one younger team member, the rest of us are all in our 50’s, proof that age is just a state of mind. We have all had our own individual challenges, and have all been through a tough 12 months, as has everyone else, this challenge has certainly united us, and given us a focus and a sense of purpose that has propelled us all through these difficult times.
We are all hugely excited for our Channel Relay swim, and look forward to our journey together as a team as we prepare ourselves, we hope you will all enjoy the journey with us.