For nearly a year, Gery Lemon has made a point in her day to head down to the Esquimalt Harbour and take a plunge – no matter how cold it is.
And while she sometimes still goes out alone, especially in the winter months, Lemon has attracted a sizeable following - even creating the View Royal Dippers Facebook group to help organize group dips, which are becoming popular around Greater Victoria and beyond.
“It kind of resets you,” said Lemon. “You are super focused, ‘Here I am in the water, I’m very present in cold water, I’m nowhere else,’ and all other thoughts are kind of gone.”
Lemon said she first started looking into the idea of cold water dipping after she caught a news interview several years ago where another dipper was extolling the virtues of the practice. That person said spending a few minutes a day in the cold ocean water had done wonders for their arthritic knees.
As she looked into it more, she kept finding more people who were doing it around the region, and last year finally found someone willing to try it with her.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
“It’s hard to get in every single time. The water is cold and it is bracing, and it would be so much easier to just stay warm, but I never, ever regret it.”
Lemon said her personal trick to get past that initial resistance and to stay in the water on a particularly cold day is to come up with haiku in her head. When she dips with others, conversation heading into the water and once everyone is in has proven to be a big help.
She also said it is important to start slowly when you are just getting into it, and to recognize everyone’s body is different, and their tolerance to cold varies.
In the winter, for example, she usually limits herself to five minutes of floating or treading water without getting her head wet.
In the summer, she spends more time in the water and will swim around a little.
Some people may not be able to stay in that long in the cold months, while others may have no problem staying in longer.
Anyone interested in connecting with other dippers to try it out for the first time or to participate regularly are encouraged to join the View Royal Dippers Facebook group.
But Lemon has a warning for anyone who wants to try: Once you try it, you won’t want to stop.
“I’m hooked. I don’t know why I’m hooked, but I’m hooked!”