"As I breathe I feel those waves gently gathering and spilling a deeper strength inside me."
TAMSIN CALIDAS, I AM AN ISLAND
'Wild swimming' is perhaps one of the most surprising and liberating crazes to sweep the nation. And it couldn't come at a more timely moment, with mental health issues being compounded by the claustrophobia, not to mention very real financial distress and
excruciating limitations to our freedom resulting from the recurring lockdowns.
If you are looking for the ultimate escape, don a wetsuit, or for the hardier, your swimmers - or for the très risque ..... your birthday suit - and head on down to your closest patch of open water.
'Cold water therapy' as it is also
known, triggers a type of shock therapy that helps your body deal with stressful situations. The more you take the plunge, the more your body becomes acclimatised to dealing with stressful situations. It sounds brutal, but it’s a powerful way to clear the blockages in your mind and body that are compounded by the world we live in. You will begin to find a new resilience, a new way of perhaps not just ‘coping’ but learning to approach things from a different perspective. We are creatures of habit. We can subconsciously begin to train ourselves to redirect feelings of stress or unhappiness, to channel them more effectively. And we speak here largely from experience, no amount of reading around the subject can demonstrate quite as profoundly as literally taking the plunge. To experience is to understand 🖤
Our Co-Founder, Lucinda, and her husband Henry go for a dip almost daily in the sea by Lympstone, Devon. They absolutely swear by it as a way to clear any kind of mental block - or simply as a way to reset and refocus through the day. They return to their desks, or their home schooling stations, refreshed and revitalised, empowered and ready to take on the world!
This is the perfect way to allow yourself to stop. Disconnect from your phone, step away from social media and reconnect with nature. As soon as you are submerged in the ice cold water, you shed your worries and you will feel the power of nature consume you.
Wild Swimming is not only an incredible way to clear your mind, but it has been well documented as boosting the immune system - since 400BC in fact.
Cold water helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body becomes better at activating its defences.
A little background on Wild Swimming:
'Ice swimming' was propelled to fame by a Scandinavian, Wim Hof
, who harnessed the true power of cold water therapy whilst searching for a way to channel his grief from the sudden loss of his wife. Essentially, he became focused on how extreme cold could be used as an emotional, mental and physical reset of body and mind. The ritual of plunging your body from the comfortable to the bitterly uncomfortable triggers a deep physical connection between your mind, body and nature itself. You are consumed and held in the arms of the ice cold water, gasping for breath. The three pillars of the Wim Hof Method are: Breathing, Cold Therapy and Commitment. By applying these to your immediate state instead of surrendering your fast beating heart to panic, this becomes a moment of absolute release; a moment to recenter, to breathe deeply, to refocus, to reconnect to yourself and to the very intrinsic freedom found in nature. "We have become alienated from nature, but the cold is capable of bringing us back to what we once had lost."
I was unsurprised to read the indisputable argument that we as a human race are physically weakening; we are pampered, live in constantly warm and comfortable temperatures, are rarely pushed beyond our physical comforts.
Hydrotherapy is an ancient practice. In 400BC Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, would prescribe cold water therapy as a treatment for lethargy and fatigue. Until the the introduction of heated water in the 18th Century, when this expression of wealth and status relegated cold water bathing to being a practice largely enjoyed by the peasants, cold water baths was very much the norm. After this time, cold water bathing became a novel practice and in the
19th Century, Hippocrates' findings returned to the forefront and the healing powers of cold water were reintroduced as a 'alternative therapy' means of purification.
It wasn't until the 1990's that formal scientific studies
were run on the health benefits of cold water therapy. Doctors in Germany concluded that
cold water reduced levels of uric acid and resulted in a ‘hardening’ of the body:
"Hardening is the exposure to a natural, e.g., thermal stimulus, resulting in an increased tolerance to stress, e.g., diseases."
"It turns out that the technologies that we believe are our greatest strengths are also our most tenacious crutches. the things we have made to keep us comfortable are making us weak."
I love this beautiful and powerful and reflection on the power of Sea Swimming, recited by my cousin at our unconventional family 'sermon' this Christmas:
"The sea swallows you, churns and tosses you, and then spits you out, it changes your chemical structure, like from solid to liquid, you melt, becoming malleable, no longer stuck, rigid, clamped, angry, scrawled up in a ball, in this COVID world, where everyone lives not really knowing what to do or what to say, stripped of confidence, robbed of structure, reassurance, routine, ego mushed up, searching for validation, wanting to throw a chair across the room, just to spark some kind of tectonic shift. But no, no, suddenly no - after a sea swim you are able to see the world differently, and freshly. And all pre-conceptions and worries about the world, dissolve in the fierce waves. Then when you reappear from the water and crawl out onto the tough pebbles - and wrap yourself in a crisp towel - it feels as if the world has forgiven and accepted you."
Wild Swimming in many places brings with it a sense of community, where we live in Bosham there are groups that gather whatever the weather in their swimsuits and rubber caps and head out for a refreshing, bracing dip.
provides a perhaps unrivalled sense of relief and relaxation, soothes muscle aches, relieves depression and boosts the immune system.
Whatever your motivation, you will not regret joining this movement 🖤