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A nightswim at the Ponds on Hampstead Heath becomes the stuff of myth when you live in South London…not for the fear of cold waters or getting caught but for all the public transport it takes you to get there. An hour long journey is not all that conducive to the spontaneity usually involved in jumping into cold dark waters. But last nights murmurings of coulds, maybes, might we, shall we, transpired into my housemate and I on our way to the heath at 9pm on a sunday night, from Brixton. 

When we got there it went something like this, clothes off slowly, waters edge slowly, toes slowly, knees thighs tummy slowly in, then out, then all the way in, we’re in, still in, still in, then out, fast, clothes on fast!

A true nightswim, all to the backdrop of a starry, moonless, breezy night. Canada Geese slept on the jetty topped with grey fluffling goslings, insects hummed (and yes, traffic hummed too in the very distance) but best of all, a nearby owl twood to the tweets of a distant owl as we lowered ourselves off cold railings, that surely is what nightswimming most deserves.

Kate Rew of the, Outdoor Swimming Society, says that getting into fresh water has a way of returning you to yourself and I think thats true and when it’s freezing cold it has a way stripping you right down along the way. Half of me is jetsam now.


Rahima Fitzwilliam Hall

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