Ask anybody who swims in the sea regularly if it’s good for you, and they’ll undoubtedly tell you that it is. Open water swimming, sea swimming and cold-water swimming have exploded in popularity in recent years, however this is no fad – Doctors were prescribing swimming in the sea and visiting the coast to “take the sea air” as far back as 200 years ago, and the treatment is known as thalassotherapy.
What’s So Good About Sea Swimming?
Recently the growth in tri-sports and adventure racing has seen many swimmers take to the open water, and the reported benefits for both physical and mental health have also introduced people to its benefits. Swimming in the sea or in cold water on a regular basis is said to soothe and improve skin conditions thanks to seawater’s higher mineral content, and immersion in salt water has also been said to alleviate respiratory ailments such as hay-fever and sinusitis because saline water is thought to reduce inflammation. Swimming in cold water releases endorphins, adrenaline and cortisol, helping to lift mood, whilst the effect of regularly placing your body under mild stress by immersing yourself in cold water has been shown to increase the body’s white blood cell count, improving immunity and the body’s reaction to stress.
Sea Swimming in Cornwall
The sea here in Cornwall isn’t that cold over the summer months though; in fact, for those of us who enjoy the sea all year round the summer months when sea temperatures can reach 15-18 degrees Celsius are positively warm! Regularly submersing in the sea and settling into a nice rhythm to swim along a beautiful stretch of coastline is without doubt, in our opinion, the most enjoyable and beneficial exercise that one can undertake. The breathing patterns of swimming stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and an A-to-B swim can be an almost meditative experience when you are totally absorbed in your timing and technique.
And then there’s the view. On a calm and sunny day the view looking back at the stunning stretch of coast along which we are lucky enough to run our sessions is second to none. Wading into the water at Port Gaverne and swimming the one mile stretch to Port Isaac pausing to enjoy the view en-route, before swimming into one of Cornwall’s most picturesque villages through the harbour walls is an incredible experience. For swimmers wanting to cover some distance we can extend the route or swim the return leg, whilst others may be content do swim a mile and walk back along the cliff path, enjoying the view from the other direction.
This year, The Big Swim Cornwall is taking a break; in past summers this event has always been a highlight as hundreds of enthusiasts swim the one-mile route that we are so familiar with and raise money for charity. The last two events have been unlucky with the weather and this year the organisers are taking a year off to “let the grass grow back” to use a favourite Glastonbury phrase, and to re-evaluate their routes and plans for inclement conditions to minimize stress should they be unlucky again in the future. The great news though, is that you can still swim the route of The Big Swim, but on any day that you choose and without lots of other swimmers. Whilst running over the finish line in Port Isaac is a great feeling, getting splashed or kicked during the mass-start (particularly if you’ve entered one of the more competitive categories) isn’t a great feeling. We can take you out solo or in a small group with one of our instructors paddling a sea kayak alongside you for support, encouragement and to stop you from veering off course.
Whether you are a seasoned sea swimmer, are new to adventure events and looking for a supported training session, or you want to see whether sea swimming could help lift your mood or ease an ailment, we can tailor sessions to suit your needs. Our guided wild swimming sessions run at 8am, so you’ll see the best of the day, and cost £40 per person.