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.

Sunday, 4th April 2021, 7:00 am

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.

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Swimmers enjoy an early morning swim at Seaburn.

In addition to regular sessions, their Facebook groups give people a way to meet up to keep each other safe.

Wild Sea Women, which meets at Seaburn, and Iceguys North East, which gathers at Roker, just before sunset on Sundays, are now getting ready to return as lockdown eases.

He added: "We've also formed strong friendships during the shared experience and challenge of swimming in the cold sea.

A glorious sunrise on Sunderland's coast is enjoyed by some early risers from the waves off Seaburn.

"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.

The swimming groups along our coastline have forged many friendships.

"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.”

The national Mental Health Swims includes one at Seaburn, which meets at 11am on the first and last Saturday of the month, with more via https://www.mentalhealthswims.co.uk/.

RNLI safety advice for open water swimmers can be found through: https://rnli.org/safety/choose-your-activity/open-water-swimming#.

Sessions are held along the beaches throughout the North East.

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