I wish I could say I’ve always swam, or that I grew up by the sea with a love that ran so deep for it I had to return. The truth is that I only started to learn to swim properly at around age 14, and I grew up with a nervousness and respect for the sea that somewhat held me back. It’s taken me 36 years to find this intense passion and love for the sea, and now it’s here I don’t want to ever lose it.
I honestly think that the birth of my 2nd child led me to my relationship with the sea. Before becoming a mother, I could use my spare time as I pleased - a luxury I didn’t fully appreciate until now. Yet this lack of time pressure, this “there’s always tomorrow” freedom meant that I didn’t utilise my time as wisely as I have since becoming a mother of two (who also happens to run a fast-growing business) and I didn’t start the things that were on my bucket list (or should I say “list of fears to overcome”). One of these activities was cold water swimming. Pre-kids I had the Thames quite literally at the end of my drive in Oxfordshire, but taking a dip in there for me was as rare as hens’ teeth.
Fast forward a few years and I now live on the stunning Dorset coastline, only a few minutes away from some of the most beautiful beaches I have set my eyes on. I have an 11-month-old, and a 4-year-old, and finding time to even use the bathroom on my own is rare. And yet I swim, in the moody, rugged, chilly English Channel every week and it has honestly transformed my life as a parent. Since jumping in those icy waters, I have met a community of like-minded women, all there to strip off layers both literally and metaphorically, and there to argue over who gets to hold my gorgeous baby whilst I get my cold fix. Whilst parenting is hard, and time is poor, knowing that I have 5-10 minutes in the sea, where no-one is requiring anything from me, and no-one is vying for my attention, is the only break I need for the day. It’s an opportunity for a snatched “me-time” that boosts not only my mental, but also my physical health.
I can’t believe it took me this long, but I am so glad I found it, and I hope to continue to swim each week all year round (with some help from my Yulex swimsuit, gloves and boots) with a goal to swim on Christmas Day as my family watch on from the beach with their mugs of hot chocolate. As one of the inspiring women I have met through swimming, Maggie, recently said – “If I can do this, I know I can do anything”.