I have loved the sea ever since I can remember, As a very young child we spent all our annual holidays at Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, staying in 1 Barnaloft, a ground floor flat with a balcony. We were a band of six, Me and my brother Matthew plus friends Tim, Steve, David, and Helen. Days consisted of cossie, over the wall and straight onto the beach. the only instruction was to come back when we were hungry. We spent our time building pointless and intricate dams amongst the rocks to hold back the sea, swimming and playing in the waves until blue with cold. We flew kits for hours lying on our backs on The Island seeing how high and long they would fly, idyllic times, always sunny, always fun.
Since then I have swum in many places as often as I could. From the age of about six to thirteen, we were lucky enough to be members of a private lake called Kingmere in Wokingham Without. A man-made beach, a pontoon with a slide in the water and three islands to explore were heaven. We swam, canoed, sailed a small Mirror dinghy owned by some friends and swam..and swam…fished and camped, like a mini Swallows and Amazons without the rivalry. this was also where I nearly drowned, diving off the pontoon I dove straight down and snapped my elbow, the excruciating pain rendering me unable to swim for several weeks.
The sea has always had a strange, almost unfathomable draw. I moved to Gosport and swam in Stokes Bay, often, on one occasion being joined by a seal who followed me back to shore, curious and effortlessly shadowing my human efforts. I walked to the beach in Falmouth during my oceanography degree daily wondering why so few people did the same.
Then I moved to the isle of Wight which has to be the most wonderful place to live if you like to sea swim. There is always somewhere to swim on the island. The wind-driven waves mean that there is usually a beach that is sheltered despite the weather. Sandown Bay, for me, is the best beach and even when it is really rough it is possible at low tide to take a dip. There might not be the opportunities to swim any distance at times but playing in the waves is an antidote, for me, to those issues in one’s life that seem, at times, overwhelming. I can go into the water feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and come out with problems changed to challenges, depression suppressed and anxieties ameliorated.
It is, for me, the best way to cleanse my soul, it is my mindfulness, laying in the water watching the sky, watching the patterns in the waves, understanding that I am such a small part of creation yet still a part of something far bigger than my own life. It helps in every way.
This blog will be an exploration of these themes, how to play safely in the water; some of the extraordinary people with whom I swim; the tides, conditions and beaches around the Isle of Wight; the science of cold water swimming (and let’s face it, the sea is always fairly cold); tips and hints on playing in the water as well as a myriad of other facts and science of the oceans.
I hope you enjoy reading it.