The ripple effect of the Dart 10k

07th September, 2017

Husband and wife, Jon and Juliet Stubbington joined the OSS Team at the Dart 10k 2016 and not only became valued team members, they also became outdoor swimmers.

The duo joined the OSS Team of volunteers at a crossroads in their life, Jon was made redundant and the next day they both arrived to volunteer at the popular Devon event. The day after the event, second-hand wetsuits were purchased and the pair threw themselves into a new world of swimming outdoors. “Having not swum in the sea for many years and having never swum in a river, it was a brave new world for us both,” says Juliet. “This new obsession, there’s no other word for it, has blossomed and grown alongside a new routine with Jon becoming self-employed. Swimming discoveries and joys were happening alongside the triumphs and frustrations of setting up and supporting a fledgling business.”

Over the past year as we look towards another Dart 10k event this weekend, Jon and Juliet have had salty swims, freshwater and brackish swims. Have swum in lakes, rivers and pools, at sunrise and sunset. They have dove in at moonlight and solstice, done distance and dips, organised and impromptu swimming – swimming with friends, acquaintances and strangers, seals, ducks and dolphins. There have been cold swims, warm swims, freezing swims and in most states of undress. “Our bathroom and kitchen are now permanently covered in a fine layer of sand that no amount of vigorous hovering can quite remedy,” says Juliet. “A red Teignmouth tinge in our bath tub remains stubbornly after every scrub. Silicone hats, goggles and swimsuits hang off most available hooks, pegs and bedposts. My car, never a poster child for minimalism pre-obsession, has become a permanent shrine to the water; towels, hats and a washing up bowl jostle for space with the anti-freeze and engine oil.”

The couple have enjoyed moments of peace and calm as well as excitement, apprehension and euphoria. Feelings all swimmers can relate to. “By far the most surprising and satisfying thing about the past year has been a sense of rediscovering our home, geographically,” says Juliet. “Areas we thought we knew, redefined through a watery lens and made shiny and new in a more immediate way. As a gardener I feel I’m in touch with the seasons but as a swimmer I’m actually in them, part of them in a more visceral and symbiotic way. There have been moments of complete clarity underlined by the soft pink quicksilver of a velvet sea or the refracted hazy starbursts in a tannin-brown river.”

Of course, Jon and Juliet are quick to appreciate the swimming community too, “The outdoor swimming community has been a revelation. Everyone we’ve met in person or online this past year has been welcoming, encouraging and downright inspirational,” says Juliet. “The generosity displayed in sharing locations, kit, tips and time has been nothing short of astonishing. I can’t think of any other situation in my life where I’ve felt so immediately welcomed and supported by a group of strangers. You are a unique, gorgeous, life-affirming bunch and I am proud to now count myself amongst you.”