Wednesday, 22 March 2023
Stop thinking about it and JFDI Stop thinking about it and JFDI Gillie Sutherland

You learn a lot about yourself when you start swimming in the cold water every morning

Written by  Gillie Sutherland Jan 16, 2022

I’ve recently started swimming every day in the sea, without a wetsuit, in Zadar, in winter, at 8.30am every morning.

And when I say every morning, it really is. Today is Sunday and instead of enjoying a lie-in like most normal people, I’m going a little earlier, at 8am, so that I have a quick swim before setting off to go hiking.

People think I’m crazy, but I’m not the only one it seems.

There’s a guy here called Sam, from the Czech Republic, and he joins me every morning. He took this crazy idea of sea swimming in winter to a new level since we started.

The first time we met up, he made a very fast risk assessment, then before I’d even taken my hat off, he was in, head-first, one big splash of a dive, and he was off.

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People think I’m crazy, but I’m not the only one it seems

Some mornings I’m not sure whether I love him or hate him. I have this same relationship with my hiking guide. Depending on whether I’m on some gruelling uphill climb, or enjoying the most incredible views from the Velebit mountains, my feelings towards him are different.

With my swimming companion, there are moments I’m regretting ever having met him. This mostly happens on those frosty mornings when I’m still in bed, and I’m dreaming up excuses of to how to get out of it, so I can just stay wrapped up inside and cosy.

This only lasts a couple of minutes now, and the funny thing is, just by observing this ridiculous process I go through in my head, I can overcome it.

All it takes is getting out of bed and putting my swimsuit on, and the rest is easy. It’s just habit now. I don’t think about it. I just set off. I don’t hesitate getting in. I splash my face with the water first, and I dive straight in.

I always have this moment when I’m swimming back towards the jetty, and it’s like I’m heading straight into the sun. The morning light is shining on the water, and it’s my favourite moment in my day.

“Breathe in the light”, I say to myself.

And in that moment I am filled with joy and gratitude that there’s been someone else to encourage getting my ass out of bed and straight into the water at this magical time. And I’m reminded that the light is returning.


The more I do it, the stronger this feeling gets, and the more I affirm to myself just how good for me this is.

There’s not one day I have regretted it. Even the days when it’s been a bitter 4 degrees outside, and I think 10 degrees in the sea. It’s always a good decision.

Although I know a lot of the science to back up why this is good for us, I don’t even really need to justify it to those who don’t understand. It makes me feel good, I feel great for the rest of the day, and it’s working for me.

I don’t need any more evidence than that.

The next step is just getting rid of that pointless couple of minutes in bed where I think I want to stay put. It’s always going to happen. The part of me that wants to swim is always going to win, so it’s a complete waste of time having that conversation with myself.

It’s like hitting the snooze button. It’s just delaying the inevitable getting up. Each time the alarm goes off it’s the same thing, so why bother?

The answer, as often in life, stop thinking about it and JFDI ;just flipping do it)!

Read more Gillie here...  


Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Cavtat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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