Severn

I believe in infinity even though I know I can never get there. Where will it end? The point of experiments is – nobody knows the end result.

In the pond in London I can be a good scientist – carrying out my experiment in a controlled environment – just one parameter change at a time – the slow progression of dropping temperatures. With the occasional shocking dive. I know the end result already – by January if there is ice – I’ll be submerged under it.

In the Dart with my accomplice my adventure has more unknowns. The current, the temperature, the entry and exit. Lots of parameters – even if we get there – will it happen?

A lunchtime meeting and a gap in the schedule means that there is an opportunity for a secret adventure.

I haven’t had a dip in 8 days and it’s taking its toll in overheating.

The good news is that it’s a mild November day. And I’m unfettered. No equipment. No expert advice. No permission. No judgement. Freedom. Without company, and in an unfamiliar river I am so much more scared and on risk assessment high alert. There’s no Severn bore at least.

A jog along the muddy riverside path takes me to some anglers jetties. I’m in luck – as I always am now – if I don’t plan and just go with the flow. 15 wooden steps down then tree roots into the water – I’ve learnt that’s the perfect exit strategy.

Strip off slip in. How far into the current can I go? Firing synapses in my skin / water interface spread equally over every pore. My mind takes over to intercept the pain panic signals and replace them with calm. I’m going to use that technique next time I’m trying to leave the house, forgetting my stuff and I’m late.

Now for the measurements. How cold is it and how long can I stay in? Seven degrees. Seven minutes.

I’ve gone deeper and colder than my first Kings Cross pond swim now.

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