The call of the sea: Why so many have been drawn to cold water swimming and how you can give it a try
If you’ve thought about joining the droves taking a sea dip off our coast, now’s your time to give it a try as swimming sessions look set to begin again.
The interest in outdoor swimming has been rising for years, but the closure of pools and gyms and the increase in stress through the pandemic has led many to find solace in the waves.
Groups, such as the Seaham Seaside Swimmers and South Shields Sea Swimmers have joined Roker Bathing Club, Seaburn Swimmers in Sunderland and Ice Swims Hartlepool during the last 12 months.
In addition to regular sessions, their Facebook groups give people a way to meet up to keep each other safe.
He added: "We've also formed strong friendships during the shared experience and challenge of swimming in the cold sea.
"Our main focus though, is mental health.
"It's especially important that men have an outlet to be amongst people who might also be struggling, as well as a way to improve their own mental health.
"While there has been recent progress in men opening up about what they're going through, there is still some stigma.
"Two of the regular lads have said the Sunday swim has helped them cut down on their drinking as Sunday would often be an all-day session, but as the swim is later on in the day, it's given them motivation not to drink which has subsequently improved how the feel, mentally and physically, come Monday morning and on into the week.
"Once lockdown eases we'll be back swimming together as a group, we're still encouraging people to get their cold water fix by way of showers and baths at home, or sea swims as long as they follow the current Covid rules.”
RNLI safety advice for open water swimmers can be found through: https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/open-water-swimming#.