The reason Seabirds came into being as a Community Interest Company was to increase others' access to the sea so that they could benefit as we have from cold water swimming. Our first year of trading we got a grant from the Lottery and ran a course for women self identifying with mental health issues and referred via Brighton Housing Trust's Threshold Project. We met on the beach, learned about safety and tides etc, how to get in, how to get out. We got in the sea together. We drank tea and ate cake afterwards together on the beach. Volunteers from our Salty Seabirds Swim group came and helped. It was a great success. Here is some of the feedback from the participants, many of whom still swim with us or stay in touch.
How have you found outdoor swimming?
"It was amazing experience, so freezing, joyful and hypnotising. Life giving and relaxing. Friendly atmosphere and felt so looked after."
"Fantastic. It has been great learning about the sea, current, tides etc but the sense of a group experiencing the water together is lovely"
"Life affirming. It has lifted my mood and given the confidence and encouragement to plan on making it a regular habit."
Will you swim in the outdoors again?
"Definitely yes. It was life giving experience to feel nature, waves and still feel safe as I was look after well in the water by Cathy. I loved sound and feel of the sea, which made me feel happy, relaxed and enthusiastic. I feel energetic, optimistic included and better to deal with problems and chronic pains in the future. Thank you for a great experience."
"Yes. I’ve joined the seabirds and started swimming with others. Its life enhancing actually life changing. Thanks so much!"
"I will definitely swim outdoors again – in fact I have already ventured in a couple of times between lessons. I feel so grateful to have had the privilege of being amongst such kind and encouraging experienced swimmers and I would really like to start meeting up. I would also like to maybe learn how to do the crawl, and would like to hear of any lessons…."
We plan to run our second course in 2020 and are raising money through sales in our Wild Swim Shop etc towards it. We want to broaden the reach of sea swimming to those who would not necessarily think of sea swimming as a useful tool for managing wellbeing.