MAYBE YOU ARE AN ALL-YEAR-ROUND SEA SWIMMING DEVOTEE OR PERHAPS YOU ARE JUST ABOUT BRACING YOURSELF FOR YOUR FIRST BRAVE DIP OF THE YEAR … WHATEVER YOUR SWIM HABITS, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU …
Several sea worshippers – both regular and seasonal – live at The Gloss and keenly share the message of deep sea vitality! As a result, we embrace and endorse sea swimming for its plentiful health benefits and social elements – but now, we want to know what draws others to the waves. Let us know.
Tell us in however many words you like, why you love to swim in the sea, as well as where you love to swim – have you got a favourite spot to dip in and out of? Do you gather with friends for a daily or weekly ritual? Did you pick up the habit during lockdown and have found yourself drawn to the waves ever since? Send in your entries to [email protected] with a picture of you or your favourite swim spot – selected entries will be published on thegloss.ie and associated social media channels over the coming weeks. We look forward to hearing your sea swimming stories …
Frances Fogarty, founder of sustainable swimrobes brand LilyMais
My swimming journey started when I sold my business and home in Tipperary and moved to Baile na nGall, Co Kerry in 2019 to start a new life. I had no sooner started swimming in a local swimming pool when along came Covid-19 and that put a stop to swimming for a while! It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that I took the plunge into sea swimming, the intervening months being spent getting to grips with Type-1 Diabetes which I had just been diagnosed with. I took to sea swimming like a duck-to-water and found it a fantastically calming influence on my diabetes. In addition to this, it became the conduit through which I made friends with so many people, both locals and so-called “lá breá’s”. Our swimming group is aptly called the Baile Bathers.
In parallel to my new sea swimming antics, I was looking for a business idea in fashion as I had been studying fashion design in both Limerick and Mallow. I have always had an issue with the waste created by the global fashion industry so I was looking to put my name to something that would not add to this toxicity. It was during a post-swim chat that I had my eureka moment – what if we were all to wear swimrobes made from recycled towels? Within days I had created my first LilyMais swimrobe and had a welcome test market in the Baile Bathers, pictured above, who now all proudly wear their beautifully colourful LilyMais swimrobes. www.lilymais.com
Isobel Tynan, THE GLOSS reader
When a friend invited me sea swimming in October 2020 I jumped at the chance. My kids were back at school and our shambolic working/home-educating experiment was paused. What had seemed essential before Covid – commuting to offices, drinks in the pub, a haircut – had long since fallen away. It was replaced with a deeper understanding of what was truly important: connection with family and friends, mental wellness, and any activity that gave me back that sense of my own autonomy and strength.
In the wind chill at Seapoint, it felt unnatural peeling off my huddle of winter layers and exposing my milk-white limbs. Following my braver friend, I waded tentatively in, down the steps slimed with sea moss, clenching the wobbly handrail, laughing and involuntarily yelping as the cold water licked over my toes and numbed my legs.
Finally, I had to let go and swim. Legs and arms threshing through the water, I swam parallel to shore, focused on counting, to 60, then another 60, until my breathing calmed. Floating on my back, the perspective diverged from land: on one side the stony bulk of the Martello tower and on the other the far-away horizon, pink-streaked sky and shimmering sea fused together without a joint.
After, as I manoeuvred on clothes under the modesty of a skimpy towel, my hands still clumsy with cold, and sipped hot tea from a flask, I couldnn’t stop smiling.
18 months on and I’ve swam in all weather, on spectre-grey winter days and bright, spring mornings. With friends and on my own. Seapoint is still a favourite swimming spot, close enough to cycle there and free-wheeling down the hill reinforces that childlike, playful feeling. The Forty Foot, with its clean, deep waters and frequent sightings of seals and dolphins is always special. Wherever I go in Ireland, and more recently overseas, I always check out outdoor swimming spots. On each occasion, I’ve known that duality, the dread of taking the plunge, and the bubbling exhilaration after of having done it, the reminder of my own strength.
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