We meet for a Thursday evening swim on Plymouth Hoe, after yet another hideous day of torrential rain, wind and mist. Unusually, the boys outnumber the girls. We pick our way over rocks and seaweed into murky greeny-grey water. The wind slaps rain over me and I chill instantly so that the sea feels almost warm. Drake’s Island and a cruise ship loom in and out of view through the fog.
The minute I hit the water I feel better. The spray sparks off my burning skin and I smell stormy sea. Every so often patches of slender weed wrap my limbs like bony fingers in a ghost train. I bump around randomly enjoying the sensation of being slapped by frantic waves. The wind roars in my ears enhancing the feeling of a fairground ride.
I swim and concentrate on holding my glide while I breathe, allowing the sea to dictate an erratic rhythm. I roll with the white horses and wait, sneaking breaths where I can see a gap in the slapper waves. We swim back in and are dumped inelegantly among the shingle, weed and sand on the shore.