Come and join the Salty Seabirds for a swim on Wednesday evenings!
I watched my partner sea swimming for years thinking he was a bit bonkers (while seeing clearly how good it was for him) before I took the plunge and discovered it was for me too. You can see how it benefits the smiley swimmers in the pictures but you still feel hesitant about actually taking the plunge…
As part of Mental Health Awareness week this week the Salty Seabirds have come together to put together various events – one is our new Wednesday Evening Swim – the first one very much aimed at encouraging newbie swimmers to come and try a dip with us.
We are a friendly, inclusive bunch, open to ALL who want to swim/splash/dip/bathe with us. Visible female bias in the shared photos and chat we know but men very welcome, honest!
So, to practicalities. Now it is a bit warmer, what do we actually need to get in the water apart from our swimsuit (not expecting anyone to skinny dip for their first swim!). The real answer is nothing. Warm layers for afterwards are essential so that you don’t suffer from the cold you will inevitably (it’s the good bit, I promise!) feel. There are also a few other bits of kit that make it much more do-able – you can do it without them as some choose to but it can be the difference between putting you off and you getting in and enjoying yourself so I have tried to pare it down to the basics:
Swim hat; to limit the ice-cream head effect, support pain free handstands and keep hair (relatively) dry to protect against wind chill on wet hair. Having said that some of us insist on dunking the head before getting out for the full cold rush/re-boot effect.
Large towel or changing robe; as we change on the beach these can protect against wind chill and flashing your arse to passers by. We have had a few dressing gowns recently which do the trick nicely.
Warm layers for afterwards; woolly hat, thick sweater etc. Easy to put on dampish skin.
Neoprene socks/boots and gloves. Many of us have ditched the gloves by now but not the boots. Decathlon have them or you can find them online (Some folk are fine without them it has to be said.
Hot drink: not totally essential but very helpful; (using a cup as a hand warmer great tip)
Any other tips please feel free to comment below. If you want to try before you buy gear message us in the event page and we can see about lendings…people may have spares hanging around…
For more tips and information about beating the cold and keeping warm post-swim see our older blogs here and here.
I will bring the biscuits – see you next Wednesday!
Seabirds swimming in fresh flowing water at Wallers Haven
Wallers Haven – Seabird on tour, inland!
Earlier this summer I was attending Camp Abyss with some of my favourite people in the world; close family and oldest of friends. Sweltering in the heat of high summer and stuck in an exposed, treeless field for the last three days, we needed to cool off and get wet. I turned to my new favourite discovery; (yes the one I’ve been banging on about for ages) the Wild Swim Map and the Wild Guide and found out that Wallers Haven was our nearest swim spot. Hooray!
It is a little difficult, to say the least, to match the spot on the road to the description given. However, we parked on the side of the (very fast) road, waited for a gap in the traffic, then headed over to the bridge to investigate. Unfortunately, we ended up taking the most difficult route, which turned into a battle with nettles and one of our party almost falling down the side into the river. Don’t do that as there is ‘proper’ access via a path a bit further up the road each way!
Stumbling on, hotter and grumpier by the nanosecond, we eventually rounded the concrete jetty described in the map. It really is the most beautiful spot. Peaceful and surrounded by countryside, with Weeping Willow trees dangling down over the silky surface of the river. Mineral tasting water, refreshingly cold in the heat of the day. My first river swim! Having been stung by nettles, almost falling into the river and spotting a ‘snake’ on the surface of the water, one of our party stated that they were just there to watch.
However, it proved inviting enough to get all of us in and having the absolute best free fun that there is to be had! This despite our varying levels of confidence and anxiety about being out of our depths etc. Some stuck to the edges for a quick float, others dived or jumped in and generally messed about. A perfect spot full of simple pleasures. We all returned to the festival invigorated, energised and much, much happier, all fully converted to Wild Swimming too.
We would love to hear of your favourite swim spots in the comments.
“After drop” is common after swimming in cold water; you get out and feel fine, and then you start to get colder, sometimes growing faint, shivering violently and feeling unwell.” (Outdoor Swimming Society)
Learning to head off the after drop is a key part of continuing to swim in cold water all year round. While in the cold water you can be lured into a false sense of security (numbness!) and stay in for what turns out to be too long. With practice you learn your limitations and just how cold you are going to be about 10 minutes after getting out. You then moderate your swim times and get out before you feel you have to. Then the key is warming up – slowly. If you have a hot shower, for example, the blood can run from your core (where it is working hard to maintain your core temperature and keep you alive!) to your skin and actually make your temperature drop along with your blood pressure – potentially making you feel faint and ‘stinging’ your skin.
Tips to warm up after you get out of cold water:
Get dressed as soon as you can. Preferably starting with the top half of your body. Use a haramaki. As you start to warm up blood starts to recirculate in your extremities and peripheral blood vessels, cooling as it travels. You can lose up to 4.5°C from your core temperature so a haramaki is great.
Use a robe or a sports cloak to get dressed quicker and protect you from the windchill as well as your dignity.
Put on a hat and gloves and have some tea from a flask you brought with you!
Put on lots of layers. Haramaki, gloves, hat, thermals.
Sip a warm drink: this helps warm the body gently from the inside.
Eat something: sugar will help raise body temperature so have some cake!
Sit in a warm environment: chance for more tea and more cake with your fellow swimmers….
Walk around to generate body heat. It can take some time to warm properly. Running up and down the beach while waiting for your friends-who-faff can help.