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Dip a Day December Ella
Dip a Day is a great discipline to practice

Swimming every day, outside, in all weather during one of the darkest and less inspiring months of the year has become one of the best things I have done for myself. This year was a bit easier, after moving to a freelance role this autumn, fitting swims around work was a bit simpler. However, there were still days when I woke to rain hitting the windows and it seemed to never get light, that I really struggled to get up and out.

Dip a Day December began for me in 2016. I never really do well mentally in the darker months, I am an outdoors person. I like the light and longer days. I wanted to do something to make me appreciate the winter and be grateful, Dip a Day was born and it seemed like a good idea to also raise money and awareness for charity.

I chose to swim for Crisis UK, a homeless charity and was overwhelmed with the support I got, raising 3,730 for the charity. I was so grateful and touched that people gave their money at what is a financially tough time of year for many and I also saw a significant improvement on my mood and productivity. Swimming daily, outside in fresh air and all weather was tough – but I felt great.

It was natural to pick up Dip a Day December again in 2017 and this time I wanted to raise awareness of mental illness. So many of us suffer silently, some with shame, that I wanted to be more open and honest about my own struggles. The Blurt Foundation (https://www.blurtitout.org/) are an organisation dedicated to helping those with depression and they launched an Instagram challenge to be calmer during December. It seemed natural to partner this with my daily dips, trying to theme my swims to the daily theme of Blurt Merry Calm-ness. The themes were things like; breathe, worthy, boundaries, peace and rest. Through posting daily photos and words on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ellachloeswims/) and on Facebook I started to receive lovely messages privately. Some checking in, that I am okay and offering to listen, support and some telling me about their own difficulties and struggles. It was magical. No longer did I feel less alone, but I felt like I gave others a way to reach out and suddenly I felt I had even more support around me than I even knew.

The swims were mostly in the River Thames or Jubilee River, both local to me. Swimming at spots I swim with HOWSC on Saturdays, familiar places I am happy to swim solo. I also planned trips to the coast, or sought out new spots if I did have to travel during the day for work or social. Finding a medieval pond to swim in near Ascot and enjoying a couple of spots in Norfolk made famous by the writer and swimmer Roger Deakin. Of course, not all swims were solo – I had swims with many of my friends from HOWSC who were magically part of my daily dips – some even joining me on Christmas Day before diving into their Christmas dinners.

Swimming brings all sorts of joy, but I am most grateful for the tribe I meet along the way and cherish my Saturday swims with my club.

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring many more days in the water than in the dry.

Ella 2
Ella 3 Ella 1

AS YOU'RE HERE: The HOWSC website is maintained and run by HOWSC members and relies on voluntary contribtutions.  Do you have something you'd like to share?  Maybe reflections on a recent swim, tales of adventures in far flung places, an account of your watery accomplishments? Photographs, videos, poetry, prose, art and more will all be gratefully received and published on the website for all to admire.  Contact Mark Reed to discuss or submit your contribution.  We look forward to hearing from you.
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