Hi everyone

just wanted to say a massive THANKYOU to those of you who got in touch regarding swimming and wetsuits. Thanks to all of you, I am now a successful wetsuit wearer, and am looking forward to continuing to enjoy open water swimming in Scotland’s more usual cooler weather.

I didn’t mention in my previous post that when I was considering starting swimming again (back in 2015) I actually tried on a wetsuit. I found it a profoundly disheartening experience: the problem being that I couldn’t get my left leg in and out of the damned thing. . . it was a struggle . . .it felt awful . . I assumed that the demands of donning and removing a wetsuit were simply too much for my weak left leg and foot to handle, so I just gave up. But after reading Hilary’s practical suggestion about putting your feet in a plastic bag, I felt encouraged . . . foolish even . . . so I bought a very basic, and very cheap ‘Osprey’ wetsuit online (with a bit of searching you can pick one of these up on eBay for around £20)

Well, with the plastic bag trick, I got my dropped foot, weak leg, and the rest of my body in the suit, and took a dip in Carbeth Loch. And even though this is not a suit specifically designed for swimming, it actually wasn’t that bad once I got it in the water.

Having been reassured that I could actually wear a wetsuit, I felt I should try a good one that was actually designed for the purpose for which I wanted to use it . . . a few of you left various recommendations, and Úna suggested trying Wiggle. . . I read a couple of reviews, and assessing my size from the useful calculators on the site, thought I’d give an Orca one a go.

All I can say is that the basic Osprey suit was ok, but the Orca one is a total revelation!

It feels really light and super flexible, is honestly quite easy to get on and off (though I suppose these things are relative) and feels pretty natural to move in, either in or out of the water. The main thing is, that I love this suit, can swim in it, and actually really enjoy doing so!

Me and my wetsuit have been venturing a little further afield . . .

When you have enjoyed looking at a view for many years, it feels amazing to be out there, amongst it, in the water.

How I wish I’d tried this sooner! But then, I’m so glad I’m able to do it now – since the mere possibility of enjoying open-water swimming seemed very remote not so very long ago.

“Are you training for something?” asked a woman, walking her dog along the Milarrochy shoreline, as I got out of the water.
“No,” I said, “I’m just giving it a go.”

And I’ve been encouraged to give it a go because of all of YOU!

The past few months have involved various health difficulties and abandoned plans and swimming feels a particularly positive and important activity for me right now. So thankyou, fellow swimmers, who took the time to leave a comment, send an encouraging email, or message me with practical advice on Instagram or Twitter. Special thanks and big hugs to Úna, Rosee, and Cheryl (whose email made me laugh, and moved me, in equal measure).

Perhaps I’ll see you in the water.

53 thoughts on “swimming update

  1. Great video and you swim beautifully !

    Are you also doing resistance/strength training? I was hit by a car many years ago. After that, each leg has its own set of problems. I took up swimming 6 years ago and started jogging more regularly 4 months ago. Recently I talked to my doctor and she mentioned that just aerobic exercise is not enough. She said I should do resistance training to avoid muscle loss as well as bone density loss. I am now feeling more stable and for sure improved one of my knee problems.

    I encourage all women over 40 (I’m 44 next month) to take up resistance training. There are many levels of resistance training (with some without any equipment) and I believe anyone can find one or two that suits her/him.

    Happy swimming !


  2. How wonderful!! How truly exhilarated you must have felt! Your perseverance is inspiring. I already find your knitting designs inspiring, and now I’m inspired in a different way. Thank you for sharing your experience!


  3. I was looking at this post and spotted a really dark cable sweater. I want to knit a gansey sweater but need a little help with yarn and pattern. Any suggestions. I loved that dark blue for my hubby. Ruth ________________________________


  4. Congratulations! Looks wonderful. The plastic bag trick is brilliant. Works well on boots with a tight ankle. I’m a left foot amputee and was told about it by a sales attendant. You can even leave the bag in the boot- though it may rustle a bit!


  5. I love this post! Affirming and uplifting! I thought of you and your swimming journey this weekend while I was able to slip into Emerald Lake in Dorset Vermont and swim in its gorgeous waters.


  6. Wow! Really don’t want this to sound creepy but you look fantastic in that!Another obstacle tackled fantastically 😊enjoy your swimming (I think your crackers but each to their own! Deeper than I can reach with my foot frightens me😂😂😂) have fun!


  7. That tree is like the moon – we only get to see one side. What does it look like from the loch?
    Thanks for the encouragement.


  8. My sister in law forwarded this post to me. We’re coming to Scotland at the end of Sept- beginning of October.
    Is it still warm enough to swim in the lochs? Do I need a wetsuit? Would love to swim in Scotland. I swim with the “Ocean Ducks” in Santa Barbara where it’s pretty cold except for summer through October. Do I need to bring my wetsuit? Never occurred to me there were swimmers we might encounter on this adventure.


  9. Loved reading this, it made me smile and I read it out to my other half too. We both have memories of the old fashioned wetsuits that were a battle to get on and off! So, so happy for you that you are enjoying swimming, and that people were able to offer so much helpful advice and encouragement. Hope you have many wonderful swims xx


  10. This is so inspiring Kate. I’d love to try wild swimming. It reminds me of Alexandra Heminsley’s book “Leap In; A Woman, Some Waves and the Will to Swim” (battles with wetsuits feature prominently in the early stages of her account).


  11. I’m so happy for you! WELL DONE! In your honor, I’m going to do something seriously good for my health today. If you can be determined, so can I.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hurrah! This is such wonderful news Kate! Thanks for sharing the joyous photos. Bruce looks like he is just completely endorsing this whole plan … he totally gets it. He share the exhilaration clearly. Now … go swim.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah🏊🏻‍♀️!! You cause my heart & soul to swell with joy! There is nothing more invigorating & freeing than wild swimming. I am so glad you are back in the water! Here is a recent film made by one of my buddies of my most frequent swimming hole: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JDm6zWRgFHA

    She recently introduced me to a couple of books that may interest you. I found the last three myself:
    -Swell: A Water Biography by Jenny Landreth
    – Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey through Britain. By Roger Deakin
    – Floating: a life regained. By Joe Minihane
    – Wild Swim. By Kate Rew (who founded the Outdoor Swimming Society)
    – The Joy of Swimming: A Celebration of our
    Love for Getting in the Water. By Lisa Congdon
    Here’s a beautiful short little video sung , but not written) b musician & passionate swimmer Louden Wainwright III

    If you haven’t seen it I recommend the 2005 film On a Clear Day. https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&hl=en-us&q=On+a+Clear+Day+2005&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgecTozC3w8sc9YSmrSWtOXmM04eIKzsgvd80rySypFFLjYoOyZLh4pTj1c_UN0rJLkpM0GKS4uRBcHgCm0sD6SAAAAA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiX36a2yqHcAhWtGDQIHbXyACwQ3LoBCCYwAQ&biw=375&bih=553

    Carry on, & keep on swimming for the joy of it!! Great to see you swimming in the rain! I love swimming in the rain! I won’t be surprised if we get to see you swimming in snow fall this winter!


  14. OMG, so beautiful! I’d definitely get a wetsuit and get in that water. I’ve worn an Orca before, always with self-deprecating comments about feeling like an Orca. ;-) But I’m a water baby, and I’m glad you’re able to enjoy yours. BTW, when I’ve swum in San Francisco Bay (training to swim from Alcatraz), I always have a tourist ask me incredulously, “You SWAM in that? How cold is it?!” I bet your water is even colder!


  15. Woohoo! And BRAVO to you. Yet, another step forward in your journey. The freedom of the water can’t be beat, isn’t that so! So very happy for you – thanks for sharing – it inspires at many life levels.


  16. So happy to see your progress in this update. This is a marvelous activity for you – rebuilding and refiring new neural pathways! One of my very favorite quotes is “Nevertheless, she persisted…” that’s precisely what you’re doing. Yay you!


  17. So happy to hear “good news”! I’m not a swimmer, but I love the feelings you’ve conveyed in your posts! I can imagine the freeing, almost weightless experience! Thank you for sharing!


  18. Well.Maybe I *can* swim in the Atlantic ocean. As children we would come out with lips blue from the cold, but I haven’t felt that adventurous in a long time. A wetsuit would be just the thing. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Nova Scotia, Canada


  19. Bravo Kate – what determination and what an inspiration. I love getting your blogs and look forward to reading them all very much. Thank you lovely lady! X


  20. So glad you have found a wetsuit that, well, suits you! It must be splendid to be swimming in the loch. Keep on going! But, of course, you encourage all of us in our knitting!


  21. You say, Kate, that you gave it (swimming) a go because of all of US (well, certainly I had nothing to do with it!), but what you must also remember is that we all give it (knitting) a go because of YOU. You give so much, wonderful that you get something back. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Dear Kate,
    I haven’t any health issues, I have no interest in swimming, don’t live in Scotland or a cold climate, haven’t been let go from a job, but you are TRULY a complete inspiration to me!!!

    When I’m not admiring your designs and books, your perseverance, ambition and sheer will astound me. I am in awe of you. Brava, and keep doing EVERYTHING!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You are wonderful, Kate!
    I love swimming ,having grown up on the water, but now it is harder for me to get there. I now live in a city. I am off to Cape Cod for a few days, and all I crave is getting in the “Magic Water” as I call it. I have a chronic pain syndrome , and ocean swimming eases what ails me.
    Keep it up!


  24. Well done you! I’m a bit put off swimming myself because I can’t put my face in the water so my swimming always looks very childish and amateur, you on the other hand look very professional and I would have assumed you were an athlete.


  25. Congratulations on your perseverance! I think swimming in a natural setting is a wonderful and healing experience. Swimming in the ocean is what I crave. I recently had to abandon swimming because of a serious hip issue. It took a year and a half to get back in the water. Two days ago, I put my feet in the Pacific for the first time. My heart soared. I am not strong enough to swim in the current yet, but simply being able to make my way down to the water gave me hope. I can absolutely imagine the thrill you must feel as you glide through the water. You go girl!

    Liked by 1 person

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