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Winter Sea Swimming

© Jonathan Browning

To some, life in Great Britain might feel a little dreary right now. The pandemic impedes normal activities, and post-Brexit separation pains have impacted daily life. But as people search for the perfect pick-me-up, they’ve been rediscovering the pleasures of swimming in the island’s coastal waters, especially the cold English Channel.

With much of the country’s swimming pools remaining shut throughout the last 18 months, sea swimming has exploded in popularity and the winter months have not discouraged

For sea swimmers living on England southern coast, the sunrise swim brings much excitement. Johanna Vicat Brown whom suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis and is recovering from cancer, “ a sunrise swim is particularly uplifting - a new day dawning brings hope and the skies are often very beautiful. The challenge of rising early and in the dark increases the feeling of resilience and achievement. If the sky is clear, it’s particularly rewarding to be warmed by the sun while
drying off and dressing” - Important as when I met Johanna the air temperature was -3 and water temperature just 5 (degrees Celsius for both)

The threat of hypothermia is very real and they have to be careful on how long they stay in. Emma Marchant, a veteran sea swimmer of 10 winters informed me on an equally cold sunrise,’ after a while the body begins to feel comfortable in the water and it can be tempting to prolong your exit – the real danger is the time between coming out of the water and getting dry and changed again” All swimmers will bring a hot drink and even hot water bottles to help their body recover.

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