By Don Warner
A few years before I joined the RBYC Brighton Icebergers, I decided to do the Harry Raisbeck ‘Winter Mile’, held annually at the Brighton Baths. I was mainly a pool swimmer in those days, though I also had done quite a few of the open-water summer races held around the Victorian coast for a number of years. Usually, I did these summer events in a wetsuit. I had heard from a friend about the Baths mid-winter swim and that you had to do it without a wetsuit. In 1999 I decided to try this event. My thought process was ‘if it is too cold, I will be very close to shore and can get out quickly.’ I reasoned that since there would be 20-30 other swimmers participating, I should be able to do it too. I psyched myself up for the challenge in the 2-3 days before the event. The day before the race, I went to Parkdale beach and stood in knee-deep water for about 5 minutes telling myself that the water wasn’t too cold and that I’d be OK the next day.
The next morning at The Baths dawned sunny and there was very little wind. It was cold alright but I wasn’t alone. Most of us entered the water from the steps closest to the beach. The starter didn’t keep us waiting very long and we were off. I did it… six times around The Baths. After warming up with a hot shower and a warm drink I was honored to meet the legendary Harry Raisbeck.