“I am a sea swimmer my whole life. I kind of secretly loved when someone said or even thought I was a bit mad for doing it... (cause I knew why I was doing it and kind of smugly thinking I can't believe you don’t do this!).
In saying that the perception people begin to have of you is that you are just immune to the cold and you jump out of the bed with excitement to get cold which is just not the case.
However, what I do get excited about is the power of knowing, pre cold immersion, however tired I am, however bad I slept, however busy my mind gets I know that this is going to make all of that evaporate with one swift motion and I am going to get to my better self very quickly.
My point is I am not immune to cold, I have definitely got a good tolerance to it due to the training I do for it but the best part of this cold immersion... Getting warm again!!!!!!
I really hate the macho bravado act that goes on in some swimming locations (not all!) but the pretending it’s not cold especially in front of newcomers who are already amplified with fear.
“It's not cold at all there you will be grand”
“it's like the Mediterranean in there”
“Come on now you’re fine that’s not even cold”
This really spoke to me and I am not going to lie I have been guilty of playing my role in taking part of this through the years when I have been introducing a friend to a new swimming spot or pre swim I knew they had a perception of me and my ability to the cold so I needed to perform and show how good I was cause this was
But all of this does nothing but hinder even more people to actually overcome their mindset to get into the sea.
When I thought of this idea it fascinated me on how strong of an opinion people had on
It's rare you get a real passionate answer about a topic that some really rely on an old heuristic or idea of what an experience could feel like.
“You would never see me in the sea”
“I hate the Cold”
“You couldn’t pay me to get in there”
I started to concentrate more and more on these people and understand them and their mental barriers, understand their why’s because at the time there was a hell of a lot more of ‘Non Swimmers’ (lets say) than people who would ‘sea swim’(now it’s nearly a social pressure when you don’t sea swim!).
I found the mindset of it all fascinating.
I kept asking the why.
I keep asking the why and 99% of it was one of either ;
· I remember going to the beach when I was younger and I was thrown in/put in and I hated the cold so much I cried and I have never gotten in again.
· I have never actually tried it my parents used to always try to get me to go but that made me not want to go even more.
· I love looking at the sea but the thought of even trying to get into it and not know what is underneath me or swimming near me is too much.
Now I am a believer in doing what you can to solve a problem so out of the 100s I’m actually going to say even 1000s of answers I gathered I said to myself ;
“Ok I can’t make anybody actually physically see what’s around them when swimming so let’s try and fix the other issues”
The best part of any sea swimmers day is when you get the heat back in your bones.
Whether it be from your own supply of your blood started to flow around and distribute it back around the body,
Whether it be from you generating it through movement,
Whether it be from getting your warm clothes back on after awhile it warms you up.
What I stumbled upon through my experiences was the overlapping messaging on how good ‘sauna bathing’ was for you from a recovery perspective.
I was privileged to meet and experience so many different people and cultures with playing rugby professionally. It allowed me to travel and see the world differently. Get different perspectives on what I ever originally held an opinion about and really trying to understand ,
Why do I think this way ?
How come I have always just done this?
What actually are your values ?
I say privileged above is because I was challenged at a very young age of a,
do you take action to fix this or leave it go moment.
I swear this is wholeheartedly what I believe changed my life.
I was just starting secondary school and thankfully impressed the coaches enough for them to give me the honour to captain my team. There is a historic trip in the school I went to play a 7s tournament in England but for player safety the tournament was weight categorised to 10 stone (68kg in new money). May seem controversial reading that but I actually think it makes a lot sense for some cases and particularly for this one in order for a fair underage tournament to be ran in a safe environment.
I had no concept of my weight when I was younger. I knew I was big and not small, I knew I had meat on my bones but all I could have done was visually gauge what I thought I was like. We had to get weighed (again a daunting experience for me) in front of everyone in our school hall and I remember seeing the scales at 12.5 stone and again still the penny hadn’t dropped just looked at my teacher and he took me aside and said ‘
Teacher - “Stevie look you’re not going to be able to go on the trip in February”
Steve - “But why sir?”
Teacher - “You’re over the weight category Stevie” (when someone says Stevie I know they were trying to tip toe around something)
Steve - “Yeah but its October. Don’t worry about it sir I will get it sorted before than”
Teacher - “Steve I cannot be seen to condone you to go on this journey”
Steve - “You don’t have to don’t worry, ill get my mum and dad to help it's all good”
Off I went home got collected by my mother.
“How was school Stevie?”
Steve- “Great yeah mum, I’m going to need to see a dietician cause I need to lose weight”
Mum- “Excuse me ?”
Steve- “Yeah I need to lose 2.5 stone before February mum so I can go on the rugby trip cause I’m the captain and I HAVE TO GO”.
I won't bore you with the long story but this journey allowed me to understand the importance of;
Resilience(I didn’t even know that was a word back than)
I got to really think about what I thought my why was. I achieved the long-term goal I set out for myself and knew from a young age and thought ,
“Yeah this is what I want to do”.