Swimmers make last dash into Sunderland's sea as new Covid measures put a halt to group sessions

Swimming sessions which have brought hundreds of people together to experience the buzz of a sea dip have been put on hold as new rules come in to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 10:01 am

The last Wild Sea Women gathering was held at Seaburn – alongside the Iceguys group, which meets at Roker on Sundays – ahead of the Government’s new ‘rule of six’ restriction on how many people can socialise together both inside and outside coming into law.

Both have attracted people from around the North East and beyond to join in, with the woman’s group led by Hayley Dorian and the men’s by Chris Nicholas, as they helped oversee that everyone kept to social distancing rules during the evening events.

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Members of the Wild Sea Women group enjoy their last North Sea dip together before the new rules capped the number of people allowed to socialise at six.

They have said they will postpone the dips until further notice, with their Facebook groups helping to keep the communities they have formed in contact, as well as a way to organise smaller meetings.

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A statement shared on their social media sites said: “Following the latest government restrictions which commence on Monday, September 14, in England, we will no longer be able to have organised sea dips of more than six people until the restrictions are lifted.

"This does not mean we cannot go to the beach or into the sea from Monday.

The sessions at Seabburn, which have expanded to others held in Seaham, South Shields and Tynemouth, have proved popular.

"If people do decide to go to the beach at the regular Iceguys/Wild Sea Women times, we won’t be able to lead the session, as this would put the organisers in a very vulnerable position and possibly open to prosecution.

"If you do wish to go into the sea, but have nobody to go with, then you are more than welcome to post in the Facebook group to ask if anyone fancies a dip, obviously sticking to the legal group size.

"We’d just like to say a massive thank you for your ongoing support and participation in the swims, it’s been an overwhelming success so far. We’ll be back in the sea in large organised groups as soon as the regulations change.”

Chris Nicholas, pictured with a previous Iceguys group at Roker, started up a men's session after calls for one of their own after the Wild Sea Women club was started in Seaburn.

Swimming groups for Seaburn, Roker, Seaham and South Shields each run their own Facebook pages.

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Organisers say they hope to restart the large group meetings as soon as it is safe, with smaller gatherings to take place in the meantime.

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Women from across the country have travelled to join in the group at Seaburn.
The Iceguys group has met at Roker, with smaller dips to be held due to the change in Covid rules.