I remember when I started wild swimming. The Thames Estuary, kissing the shingled shoreline, in my little hometown of Southend on Sea.
It wasn’t considered fashionable or fabulous then – the only people I would see dipping their toes into the salty brine the same as me, were swimsuit clad septuagenarians. For them, it never seemed to be about making a huge fuss. I would observe them rock up to the beach with carrier bag gripped in hand, slip out of their clothes and into the cool waters invading our shoreline. Swim for a short time-then, reemerge. Dry off, pick up carrier bag and disappear up the steps to get on with their day.
I wanted a bit more warmth on exiting the water. Not being made of such sturdy stuff. So made sure I took a couple of towels, a hot water bottle, flask full of sweet tea and woolly hat and gloves to pull on after I was dressed. The feel of the cold as it climbed my body on entering the chilly waters, always led to a sharp intake of breath. Sometimes I couldn’t and still can’t stop myself from making a noise. The noise seems to help me express verbally, the experience I am physically and mentally going through. It is exhilarating and my mind does not have time to dwell on the worries, concerns of everyday living. Instead my warm core becomes a focus – my mind becomes sharp and every ounce of my being is engaged with maintaining my equilibrium as I move outwards – stroke by stroke.
Swimming remains one of the most popular forms of physical activity across the world (Hulteen, Smith et al. 2017) and may offer a unique opportunity to promote, maintain and improve wellbeing across the lifespan, with potential to reach all individuals of society, regardless of gender, age, disability or socioeconomic status (Lee and Oh 2013). Swim England
The tide has been in during the day, over the last few days here. As we in the UK, bask in the most glorious summer weather. My little shoreline is littered with bodies of all shapes and size, heights and ages. It brings me pleasure to watch others enjoy, what I know as a delight but feel they’re missing a trick when not swimming throughout the winter – although there is a hardened few, far more experienced and determined than me, who swim far greater distances all year round.
My mind has committed to increasing my stroke but the rest of me, is not sure if it wants to take it out of the fun zone. Although I am pushing my boundaries by swimming into the deeper clear green waters outside of the groynes. Building self efficacy in the process. Getting to know the feel and pull of currents and undertow. I’m not blinkered to the danger this powerful force can unleash, should it so choose. Motivation and desire is growing, as I look forward to another dip today, as the temperatures set to soar even higher.
Why is Wellbeing Important?
Wellbeing is associated with good self-rated health, longevity, healthy lifestyle, better mental and physical health, social connectedness and a feeling of the ability to contribute to wider society. Swim England
I would like to add that when you have that sense of wellbeing inside – it can make you feel like you are an iridescent bubble, floating within your own life. I like to use Abraham Maslow’s, Hierarchy of Needs, as a way to explore, address and express myself whilst developing a sense of wellbeing within my own life. The mind is a strategic tool to enlist in helping you to create wellbeing to suit your needs.
I can already feel myself looking forward to heading down the beach. I look out of my patio doors, the sun is turning grass to the colour of sand.
I’m perspiring sitting in my kitchen, in front of the PC, knowing that soon, I will wade ever deeper into the blue, until I find myself floating in my own little piece of heaven. Filled with the distant voices of children laughing. Adults stand up paddle boarding or kayaking close to where I am. Where we’ll exchange pleasantries. I’ll feel good gaining human connection during my personal connection with nature.
Being part of the whole and oneness – my psyche connecting subconsciously to happy childhood memories, of summers spent with loving parents on the beach. The knowledge and insight that on my return home, both mind and body will be rested – balance restored and I’ll have guaranteed a good nights sleep for myself. My desire to return again on glowing sunset and once again enjoy a swim with my husband, increasing our bond, developing our love and making the most of these beautiful summer days.
It has beauty, power and grace. Can be a delightful friend, or fiendish foe. Yet it never disappoints in offering something on any given day, which is different to the day before. It brings stimulation and relaxation and reminds us to enjoy these days.
Does swimming increase your wellbeing. If so, I’d love to know how?