I’m going to be brutally honest, I’ve never been a fan of people. In my experience people do stupid things, say mean stuff and make ridiculous choices (do stick with me, I’ll stop being so blunt in a moment!). Therefore joining a group of 'the general public' was rather challenging for me. I was pretty sure they would be cliquey and I’d not fit in.
Turns out I worried needlessly. Wild swimmers are GREAT. The moment I walked up to them and said “Excuse me, are you the sea swimmers?” I was enveloped in this warm greeting by cheery happy people excited by the thing they were about to do. They asked about me and seemed interested in my reasons for swimming, they encouraged me when I dithered about going in, they even gave me health and safety tips. Then once we were in the sea they made sure I was ok, and if they swam past me they asked me if I was having a good time. When I came out they checked on me and then tried to get me to come have coffee with them. Sadly I was a little overwhelmed so I declined, but I've been for coffee almost every time since then. The post swim gathering is almost better than the swim to be honest. Huddling around radiators, grinning inanely at each other. Telling stories of other swims past, arranging upcoming ones. It's like a magic secret club that you never knew existed but is full of wonderful people. It's like a family.
The amazing thing is, that it's not just limited to the people you meet face to face at a swim. If you use social media wild swimming can connect you to hundreds of other lovely people around the world. The amount of wonderful stories I've read, people engaging communities, promoting charities, encouraging people to protect the seas and rivers, or even those (like mine) that are an adventure into self discovery, are just really inspiring to read. These people are actually NICE, and that's so rare these days.
Thinking about the hints and tips for this post was hard, so I’ve just listed the people that give me the warm fuzzies. Some of them are swimmers, some are promoters of the sea, and some have just helped me in my wild swimming journey. I’ve just included their Instagram name, but give them a search and you’ll get warm fuzzies too.
Hints and tips:
1. Sally McGee @surfyonder – The founder of Yonder Women’s surf school and an inspiration to wild women!
2. Jess @Kimchiandcoconut – Makes nature related acrylic jewellery and raises money for conservation charities, and surfs in her spare time.
3. Lindsey Cole @stompycole – Real Mermaid, absolute force of nature, always finding the joy in life.
4. Ella @ellachloeswims – Swim champ and inspirational speaker. The very first person I followed that swam in the wild, I was inspired by her winter charity swim last year.
5. Gilly McArthur @gillymcarthur – Queen of ice swimming, wild swimming ambassador, and all-round lovely person.
6. Kittie Kipper @kittiekipper – Makes amazing things out of beach plastic and ghost netting, activist and promoter of clean seas.
7. Jackson Groves @jackson.groves – Travel Blogger extraordinaire, part of the amazing @adventurebagcrew encouraging people to keep paradise clean.