This is a little story about a wild swim adventure that I had back in the innocent pre-pandemic days of 2019.
I was out in Barcelona for my partner, Carlota’s, birthday. I wanted to go for a bit of a longer swim, but even though the waters are often calm, I wanted to find some people with local knowledge to swim with.
Having once downloaded, then deleted, and forever still receiving email notifications from the app Meet-up, I thought it might be a good place to start.
Not long after jumping back on, I found the perfect group: Sunrise Swim Sessions
The meet-up notification included the following advice:
- We meet at the parking right next to the restaurant "Xiroi Ca la Nuri" about the same hight of the Red Cross Building at the Passeig Marítim de la Nova Icària, 38, 08005 Barcelona. You'll find us right at the cars parked behind the WOODEN BENCHES.
- We swim about 150 METRES FROM THE SHORE, so you have to be confident of getting into deep water. Then we swim parallel to the beach for about 600m forth and back, a total of 1,2km more or less.
- Most of us use a SWIM BUOY where we keep the most important VALUABLES dry while swimming. Nevertheless, we recommend not to bring many items.
- We suggest you to bring GOOGLES, a SWIMMING CAP and if you have, a neoprene wetsuit (but it’s also possible, to swim without of course)
I don’t remember the exact time that sunrise was that day, but I remember it was going to mean leaving the house in the pitch dark at around 4-5am to go to a random area of Barcelona to meet a group of people I had never met before in a car park.
On top of that I had heard many a horror story of the Barcelona beaches at night, plus warnings from the “in-laws”. However I threw caution, however sensibly, to the wind and thought let’s do it.
The mix of emotions was almost overwhelming. Apprehension, excitement, hilarity.
I kept my wits around me on the bus ride down, only bringing the essentials: swim trunks, towel, phone pouch, goggles and dry bag for my change of clothes.
Upon arriving, I was early, and there was no sign of anyone. Suddenly struck by an irrational fear of changing in front of anyone (even though I do so almost daily ) I found a suitable bush and slipped into my swimwear.
I then was struck by another imagined embarrassment of being stopped by the police alone in my trunks on the beach and questioned about my motives.
However before I could take those thoughts any further a group of cars started pulling up at the other end of the car park.
Were these open water swimmers? Or were they drug cartels about to open fire in a deal gone wrong.
I decided to cautiously approach. They were swimmers. Or. Very well disguised as swimmers.
My Spanish is basic, but as soon as I started talking all my worries melted away. I was welcomed into the group with open arms and the offer of the boot of a car to stash my clothes.
We all made our way down to the shoreline and one by one slipped into the cool morning water. The swim was perfectly timed. Just as we reached the buoy marking the halfway point we tread water, waiting for everyone to catch up.
And right on cue "El Sol" appeared above the horizon, with its orange glow scattering across the Mediterranean sea to a chorus of whoops from this aquatic choir of strangers.
Its one of my favourite "swimories" and I am so glad I did it. There is something about wild swimming that transverses culture, language and borders. I learnt a lot that day: that you should always seize the opportunity for a swim, always with safety in mind, mind. Oh and that I have a rather overactive imagination.