Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag

Beth French

Summer is supposedly here- although I'm writing this curled up in an armchair of a beach cafe as the on shore wind has brought sea mist so thick I can't make out the crab pot buoys only 30m off shore- which means the water is warming nicely.

I set myself a mission for the winter- English Channel rules whatever the weather, and I'm proud to say I nailed it without a glitch. In the past, I had donned an extra swim cap below 12'c, then last winter, it was below 10'c. This is in order to alleviate if not avoid ice cream head. It really helps- a silicon hat with a latex one on top, trapping a little air between may look bobble headed ridiculous but keeps the bonce temperate. This year I went without the extra layer at all. Single skin all the way- and I swam down to 5.4'c. I barely suffered with brain freeze and I've been looking at ways to streamline kit and caboodle in other ways.

It is a common question when people take up outdoor swimming, and even hardy summer swimmers who want to extend their seasons ant to know. What to wear to warm up? What bits of essential kit couldn't you live without? I've always travelled light and winter swimming poses problems in that area. Traditionally, togging up with endless layers is required as you stagger away from your swim like a veritable Michelin man. The bag you carry for a 30min swim ends up resembling a Sherpa's pack!

Eskeez thermals have revolutionised my kit bag- and I can arrive and leave the beach looking streamlined. A pertex jacket, to fend off the wind, over Eskeez and simple joggers and hoody on top suffice. If it's wet, I swap joggers for snow boarding trousers, hoody for waterproof and that's that. I arrive in Eskeez, leave in Eskeez and my kit bag contains only my swimmers and flask. The socks are a god send, snugly in walking boots before and after ensure my tootsies are toasty. If I feel like splashing out with my kit- as I have plenty of space in my bag, I take my beach slippers- fluffy mocassin booties which are laughed at til they are experienced for that extra comfort. Gone are the days of lugging kit spewing from holdalls. A neat day bag and I am good to go.

For more on Beth visit her website

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