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When dad-of-one Gavin Ellis first dragged himself out of bed for a 7am swim in the dark at Portobello beach he wondered if it was worth the effort.
But after taking on a cold water challenge over the festive season with his friend Finn Thomson to help promote the health benefits of the sport 31-year-old teacher says he has caught the wild swimming bug.
The hardy duo of newbies who just started wild swimming a couple of months ago had their final dip at Glencorse Reservoir waterfall on Friday, finishing off the 31 days with an icy swim, a hot chocolate and £1400 in the bag for the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity.
Now Mr Ellis is determined to stick to wild swimming and has started a podcast about mental health.
He said: “Cold water swimming is so invigorating. We’ve done almost every day in the sea either at Portobello, Wardie Bay or in the Pentlands reservoir just in our shorts. We try to go together as much as we can. We had about 40 people join us over the month. We did a swim on my birthday, another with both our families on Christmas day and on hogmanay.”
"As a dad with a three-year-old I normally need plenty of coffee but after a swim I find I’m set up for the day. I have more energy and am definitely fully awake. During school term when I was dragging myself out of my cosy bed early in the morning to jump in icy cold waters in the dark it was definitely a thought!
"There is an element of risk too but there are so many benefits. I’m hooked now. I play rugby and Finn is an endurance athlete. If we are sore after training the swim helps speed up recovery process. And I always get a better sleep. It’s so positive for mental health too.
"We wanted this to be more than a hobby. Doing the challenge during the festive season helped us raise money for kids hospital charity. What they do is so important for families. It’s heartbreaking to think of little ones suffering, especially at this time of year.”