This Winter I have been WOWED BY THE WOW sea swimmers of Hastings and other embedded swimming clans along our local town shores.
Sea swimming during lock down has provided that need for freedom and connection to nature. I felt I needed something to cope with the challenges of fluctuating hormone levels and a knee injury as I had heard it improved blood circulation, which in turn promotes the bodies healing mechanism. I started the journey into cold sea dips last October. Coping with the extreme numbness of hands and feet, 5mm neoprene gloves and boots were a must have! However everywhere I searched had sold out until I found the local HASTINGS shop TURTLE BAY.
With the first light of dawn, during all weather conditions, coats (in superhero fashion) are discarded on pebbles and bare, brave bodies take a deep breathe assessing the waves and the epic ocean skyline.
Then with tribal female enthusiasm, bodies submerge into the surf of the sea. As the waves bound against the skin a rush of adrenaline surges through your veins and organs. Then moments later swimming in the cold, the body tingles, a deep release of endorphins and connection with our ever changing seascape and selves. The feeling of calm is then imbedded through the day.
Photos by Rebecca Brooker photography
The WOW group were recently interviewed for Davina McCall's new Channel 4 series on female menopause. Just thinking of the structure of the word is odd 'MEN O PAUSE'. It has such negative connotations as it can be such a challenging time. HRT seems to be the most obvious modern solution to combat the symptoms. I wonder what our female ancestors would have done? Those that lived through their 50s that is. Using the cold water to straighten out unsettled feelings is a natural alternative to HRT. I have found that swimming combined with herbal tinctures (ashwaganda, black cohosh, sage and red clover) have sorted me right out. I love the fact that sage and red clover are favourite flowers of bees too. Also that Nancy, our local Hastings herbalist at BAREFOOT HERBS has formulated the perfect mix. Life as a 53 year old feels better than ever.
The more we know about our incredible bodies and the effect hormones have on them the wiser we become. I think also that's why I am so keen to help nurture our less privileged teen girls in Hastings too.
It turns out that WOW is also a charitable foundation that promotes creativity and equal rights for women too. They have created some incredible cultural events. Check them out here. WOW FOUNDATION
When life has felt so isolating and social norms are no longer; it's fabulous to feel alive again, through our seas our wondrous bodies, close (but socially distanced) new friends and our natural world.
The science and health benefits of sea swimming, or even cold water showers have been heralded by Wim Hoffman (AKA the ICEMAN). From combating depression, helping with the effects of menopause, arthritis, poor circulation and dementia, improving mental alertness. I have included a link here to Wim's website. There is a 20 day cold shower challenge. It starts with 15 seconds. It's cheaper that a flat white too! Website: WIM HOF CHALLENGE
What follows are some insights from some of our Hastings sea swimmers along with links to their local creative businesses that are worth shouting about.
The trepidation builds as I make my way down to the beach, peel off the warm layers and pull on my swimming gear. And then I’m in - to the jolting, thrilling, fizzing iciness of the winter sea and I’ve done it!
We humans need to challenge ourselves. Overcoming the fear, of what seems on the surface to be a blatantly dangerous and foolhardy act, and just doing it anyway, makes me feel alive and invincible."
Rebecca Brooker Photography "Sea Swimming makes me feel truly alive"
Julie Tucker Williams Jeweller - website: Jewellery / instagram "A moment of calm an internal deep dive, connection with the bodily sensations I'm feeling and letting go of things I no longer want to feel. Energising but reassuringly calming too. Every day it's a different feeling a different sight and sound."
Sally Underwood, knitwear designer - website: OMPOMPOM / Instagram "I have been living with JIA Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis for over 35 years and I am in need of more major surgery. The nature of JIA and RA ( rheumatoid arthritis) is hot and inflamed joints and in a flare, feeling fluey and extreme fatigue. The cold on my hot joints is a relief. Mentally I have got through this locked down winter with much more positivity as well as being able to manage my work, being a knitwear designer. I‘ve hardly missed a morning bar a few days when the sea is too rough. The sea swimming has become more than just swimming it is in my routine and I won’t be without it now."
Berry White, Rhino activist, website: SAVE THE RHIONO "I love my wild swimming in the sea ..I find it both comforting and exhilarating . It’s a great opportunity to be in nature and to respect it . All swims are different and exciting and leave me feeling full of beans and enthusiasm. I’ve met so many new friends since I started , everyone looks out for each other . It’s brought comradery and happiness in these challenging times."
Helen Sharpe, Singer, community producer: FBsinger. Sea swimming is the ultimate. On calm days there is nothing I enjoy more than swimming to the buoy and back. I have even done a sponsored swim to raise money for the rhinos. I have helped set up the WOW group. I can't wait for swims under blue skies and sunshine.
WOW women are incredible, brave-hearted, kind souls. I think bonds of freedom that are being made up and down the coastline between people and the oceans is a thing of beauty. Staying Safe, staying sane is definitely part of it.
I have been so inspired by the community of sea swimmers that I have created:
A blend of magnesium salts, skin softening oils and essential oil (all full of health benefits - click on above to find out more). I now allow myself some TLC along with the sea swimming. Gliding into a warm bath, I scatter the salts around my body to get the full essential oil hit, then I light a candle and go into a blissed out meditation for a luxurious 20 minutes.
Every purchase supports the 'Beauty In The Woods' project.
I would like to sign off with a little prayer of gratitude, which I now say every time I get into the sea, step into my skin enriching salt bath or feel the cold water on my face.
Bless our waters and our bodies.
Really enjoyed reading this and will be trying the cold shower routine. My aim is to cold water swim this year …. need those gloves and booties. Interesting to hear about Davina’s new menopause series – just what I need. Love your products x