There are at least two pandemic trends I’ve been late to the party on: First, sourdough baking (a full one year later, but in defence, I’m gluten-free and it took me that long to find a cookbook for making a GF starter). And second, cold water swimming.

I’d started to research the latter for a story, and you can only listen to so many “it-changed-my-life" tales from the folks you’re interviewing before you think, yeah, I could use some life-changing too. 

And yes, I also became pretty obsessed, pretty quickly. While for the last two years I've looked at the people dipping in English Bay and only thought, there is something seriously wrong with you (with all the apologies for judging now), I’m now an almost-daily plunger down at Kits Beach. And yeah, it’s been the kind of life changing I was promised (better sleeps, more energy, better productivity—and just an all-round chill-vibe in the hours after I do it.) 

But the one thing I’ve struggled with is how to elegantly wiggle out of my wet bathing suit post-swim. I’m not so shrug-emoji that I don’t feel a wee bit stressed about flashing the many dogs walking by at 7am on Kits Beach (and probably, their owners too). And when you’ve been literally chilling in 8C water for about 10 minutes, your coordination gets a little thrown off too. There have been many, many close calls. 

A friend had told me she’d bought something called a Chawela changing towel—for her eight-year-old son, but my Googling seemed to come up with what looked like an oversize K-Way: practical, yes, but warm and cozy? A big fat no. But thanks Google for recognizing the search term “changing towel” is synonymous with “changing poncho,” and this beauty from Slowtide showed up. 

slowtide 1

It's made from a super cozy, super-thick terrycloth (from ethically made, sustainably sourced cotton), and for someone my height (almost 5’5”) it hits me about mid-shin. Off to a great start. But the ingenious design is what makes me love it so: the kangaroo pouch is great for warming your hands, but it also has a second opening behind it, giving you direct access to remove your bikini bottoms without mooning the crowd. I use the same access point to pull on my trackpants, and I’m warm and dry in less than a minute. (My bikini top I pull out through the arm holes, of course).

Once the weather warms up, I think it’ll be perfect for cabin weekends, too—throw it on over my bathing suit when it starts to cool later in the day, before I’m ready to fully commit to getting dressed in the evenings.  

I picked mine up from MEC, but it looks as though they’re sold out of my palm print colourway (aka Makai). You can still find a couple of other versions there, or you can get on the waitlist direct at Slowtide, too.  

Slowtide Changing Poncho, $89.95, mec.ca