When David Cameron entered Downing Street he may have felt he was thrown in the deep end.
If the stress gets too much, perhaps he should go for an outdoor swim – evidence suggests that it’s a habit that the new Prime Minister is not unacquainted with.
Cameron, who is the patron of Chipping Norton lido (situated in his constituency), has professed his love of swimming outdoors on several occasions.
He has said that ‘I spent all my early years swimming in Polzeath and I know what wonderful waters there are in Cornwall,’ while more recently has spoken of swimming in the sea off Lord Astor’s estate on the Isle of Jura.
His biographer Francis Elliott writes: ‘Cameron has a Labrador-like tendency to jump into water, no matter how cold.’ This trait was confirmed by a recent News of the World column which listed ‘jumping into ice cold water’ among Cameron’s ‘three strange habits’.
A youthful Cameron reportedly once even dived into the sea to rescue a friend from a school of jellyfish.
It is perhaps unlikely, however, that he will follow the example of Sir James Spicer. In 1995, the former MP for West Dorset celebrated his 70th birthday by swimming in the Thames by the Houses of Parliament – in the process raising £19,000 for charity.
Outdoor swimmers of all political persuasions will no doubt be grateful that their concerns appear to be shared at the highest level of politics. Perhaps Mr Cameron might find some time to legislate for swimming rights?
The Prime Minister is among several high profile outdoor swimmers in the UK. In February the OSS website featured MPs Edward Leigh and Desmond Swayne, who enjoy regular morning swims in the Serpentine.
Alex James, the former Blur bassist pursuing a new life as a country gent, recently described an unplanned river swim as ‘beautiful beyond words’.
Steve McFadden, the actor best known as Phil Mitchell from Eastenders, has announced his intention to swim a mile across the River Fal in Cornwall.
Journalist Julie Burchill and artist Tracy Emin have often written of their love of lidos.
And of course, Robson Green featured in a wild swimming TV series at the end of last year.
(First published in May 2010 on the Outdoor Swimming Society website)
Photo from The Prime Minister’s Office Flickr stream