I took the plunge, will you?

Keeping ourselves motivated everyday to get up for work in this third lockdown is a sport in itself but braving the Irish sea is a whole other ball game.

Sea swimming exploded in popularity in Ireland last year when the pandemic struck, and that surge has continued even as the winter months were upon us.

Record numbers in Ireland took up the activity in 2020, and the popularity of sea swimming continues to grow. So, what do you need to know about sea swimming?

Most people will tell you that sea swimming provides a physical and mental boost particularly during these testing times.

For Jane Deane, who has played a central role in the flourishing community of Rush, Co. Dublin local swimmers, it has provided a place of calm and social connection particularly for members who have just experienced episodes of grief.

Deane swims everyday at Rush North beach and is part of an ever-growing inclusive community of every age and ability imaginable that now have a group chat of 80 members.

“Some are only short of having their cup of tea,” Deane said.

The social connection is clearly a huge part of this for the members. “It means you have back-up from people,” she added.

Deane also explained some of the physical and mental health benefits she has seen overtime from swimming religiously since 2019: “You just feel good. It’s funny I can’t actually put my finger on it, but you feel great.”

When posed the question to the group of swimmers about what us non-swimmers are missing out on, the reply was “the essence of life”.

For DCU student Michael O’Reilly, who took up swimming during the first lockdown after a recommendation from a friend, he has seen huge mental health benefits.

“For our generation this is the most testing time and if mentally you can find an upper hand in anyway possible [take it]. Swimming is my vice,” O’Reilly said, as we conducted our interview in the sea.

Since the popularity of swimming has grown immensely in the last year, there has also been a growth in the culture of sea-swimming particularly around the dry robe phenomenon.

For O’Reilly, he has noticed this shift in culture around sea swimming in his local area: “If you went to sea point now you would see lots of dry robes, coffee cups and chit chat. Whereas if you went down this day last year you would probably only see the veterans.”

“Dry robes are now a statement. I see them as the equivalent to a Canada Goose jacket,” he joked.

O’Reilly’s advice is as follows, “Stay committed, the feeling after will always be there but it can feel unbearable at the start.

“Knowing you can show up and get in with little to no shock factor will feel good and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.”

For O’Reilly, there is quite literally no other feeling like it.

Have you been sold on sea swimming? Perhaps as summer approaches you will be tempted but people should always follow public safety guidelines and public health advice before they dive in.

Author: Sarah Burke

Image Credit:  Photo Stock Editor