Ed’s shivery insights

‘It helps me grasp life and smile every time’

They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. The moments before you enter the open water on a bleak cold day with onlookers decrying that you are mad and telling you that you’ll kill yourself are the darkest of times but also the point when I feel most alive.

When I went for my first open water swim, similar to the feelings as I enter the water, there had certainly been some dark days. In fact I think I was heading for the slowest death in history.

When you stop striving and reaching for life then things start to slip. At first they are unnoticeable, a missed call here and there, a pound or two added to the waistline, a moment of fleeting passing missed, but eventually you become what you see in the mirror.

There’d been a lot of stress around running a business, weight ballooned up and my head wasn’t in the right place to grasp life and enjoy the moments that endure. Over the course of 12 or 15 years I had become a shadow of the true me.

I was dying slowly, really slowly.

One day I decided that I was going to get fit again, start by get the waistline down and tried the local gym.

To use a technical phrase… It was pants!

My joints hurt from carrying excess weight, the timing was tough, the blaring music. It just wasn’t for me at that time, I needed something that took the pain off my joints and gave me some space and time to simply be.

During a search on Google I stumbled across Open Water Swimming and was even happier to find somewhere local to me that had an organised group and within a couple of days I was lakeside in a wetsuit waiting to get into the water.

Suited & booted

Little did I realise that the first step down the jetty ladder was the beginning of what is now a long journey.

The temperature was 8 degrees, the pain as the water hit my feet and hands felt like needles jabbing into me and I was ready to head back out of the water onto the jetty when a lifeguard called Caroline, I had another name for her in that moment, told me to stay in the water.

Fabulous Lifeguard Caroline aka Crazy Fish

Looking back, I realise that if I had got out because the bit of pain was stopping me swimming then I’d have missed a world of opportunity.

I was counting up to 20 slowly and even managed to get a swim in for probably a hundred metres and then got out.

Huddled up, back in a hut with about six other swimmers, I started to shiver and was immensely thankful for a hot coffee. The shakes and shivers still kept coming for about twenty minutes but I felt on top of the world.

It had been years since I’d felt that elated.

So, next week I turned up again. It was 6 degrees but boy did that extra 2 degree drop mean a new world of pain to push through.

The shakes and shivers still kept coming for about twenty minutes but I felt on top of the world.

So, next week I turned up again. It was 4 degrees and yet again I was introduced to a new world of pain.

The shakes and shivers still kept coming for about twenty minutes but I felt on top of the world.

Then something magical happened.

Four weeks after starting to swim in open water the temperature had risen back up to 8 degrees which was the temperature of the first swim I went on. I expected some discomfort and pain but it didn’t come. Instead I was free to swim off and compete about 500 metres.

I realised that all that pain and discomfort was just in my head… it is all a mind game. And then I really became hooked.

Gradually, I have had my soul and emotions lifted.

There are magical moments that I cannot explain in words like when the rays of sunlight pierce through the water to the lake bed, the moments of peaceful tranquility that wash over you, the feeling of connection to something bigger.

One event will remain with me for my whole life and that was the time I noticed “something else”. An intangible connection to me but on a different existence. I don’t even have the words to convey what I discovered that day.

Rather than go on, let me share with you that I’m no longer dying slowly, I am living better, I’m happier, I’m fitter and I’ve got new friends.


If nothing else in this blog resonates then surrounding yourself with people who lift you is surely something that you will recognise as a worthwhile pursuit of happiness, but where can you find them? Answer: outdoor swimming

There will always be dark days in life but the swimming also ensures there’s always lots of shivers, endorphin highs and brighter horizons. It helps me grasp life and smile every time.



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Cliff Lakes, one of Ed’s top places to swim, you can catch him here doing a temperature check & briefing for social media on Saturday mornings  

In fact, Ed’s talent for presenting was recognised today. He was awarded the ‘person most wanting to be famous award’ at the Cliff Lakes Winter Swimming Ceremony. Ed’s response? ‘Ha ha, they gave me the wrong award, it was the want to be famous award … but I already am famous!’


#swimandtonic Guest Blogger Ed Pearson, April 2018.

#swimandtonic FB group for swimming in the Midlands and beyond






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