I have always swum in the sea. Many of my childhood memories revolve around swimming, even on the coldest of days, with my Mum hunkered down behind the windbreak.

It was only when I moved to the Midlands for work that I realised how strong my connection to the sea was as I spent most weekends commuting back to the coast for my dose of vitamin sea. Interestingly at that stage in my life I didn’t always swim – often it was enough to simply be next to the sea and to observe, hear and smell it.

On moving back to the coast, and more specifically the Devon coast, with life being much harder emotionally, I found myself drawn back to sea swimming. For the first year I swam alone; new to Devon I didn’t know anyone who was as seemingly crazy as me wanting to swim all year round. I was also swimming at a less well used beach.

Sea swimming, wild swimming whatever you want to call it is really good for us and I totally accept that it isn’t for everyone. My Mum shivers when I mention it! But for those mermaids out there being able to swim when we need to (emphasis on the word need!) is vital for our wellbeing. The scientific evidence indicates that just 45 seconds in the sea is enough to lift our mood – so for all of you prospective dunkers out there that isn’t very long. It will take you longer to get undressed and dressed again. Wander down to Tinside Cove any time of the year and you will find both dunkers and dippers.

The most important part of the swim is the swimming and the talking – if you watch sea swimmers they often break into smaller groups and from the shore you can pick up the laughter and the chatter. Topics are diverse from mundane – life, kids, how we are feeling to profound – a loss of a loved one, some TLC for someone who is struggling, world peace even. There are other topics as well – but you will have to come and swim with us to know more!

My safer swimming top tips

Finally, while we are still in the month of National Drowning Prevention Week, a word about conditions and deciding to swim or not. Here’s a friendly list of things to think about before taking a plunge:

  • It is always better to swim in others – you don’t have to talk to them but you can keep and eye on each other which is important
  • Swim with a tow float – it means you can be easily seen
  • If you don’t feel physically well, don’t swim
  • If you’re unsure about the conditions don’t go in – check the local weather forecast, tide times and bathing water quality before heading out
  • Cold water shock is very serious. Anyone going into the sea, at any time of the year, should gradually prepare their bodies for our cold waters. For more info and a guide please read here

A phrase we constantly use within the sea swimming community is “If in doubt, don’t go out”. For further information have a look at the Water Safety section of our website, where you can find a boat-load of useful tips.

Finally enjoy it – the buzz, the friendships, the being out of doors is good for you. Just ask any of us!