for those who love the outdoors

19 January, 2023

A Mermaid in The Making: This week is my one-year anniversary of dipping my chilly toes into sea swimming.

Contributor, Nicky, shares her experiences of sea swimming over the last year and what she has learned along the way. Could sea swimming be for you?

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This photo was just after our Friday dip and silent disco at 10am - now that's how to start the weekend! Thank you to all the Dippers in the photo for being such good sports! 

I am a sea swimmer and these little gems pop up all the time in our Dippers WhatsApp group.

"DYST" (Did you swim today?)

"Yes, I did and IFMTO" (I froze my t❤️ts off)

BSAAW (Big smile and a wink)

I joined to experience the blue health benefits, I am a terrible sleeper, I wake up in the night and my brain immediately fires up, then my inner voice becomes loud, mean and noisy. So, I figured what have I got to lose but dunking myself in the sea.

But it turned out to be so much more, it opened doors to opportunities, sparked some very odd conversations and some strange experiences that have made my soul sing. A birthday glass of fizz at sunrise, a silent disco on the beach at 10am, a much-needed hug on a spring morning but mostly I love the buzz from connecting, it is a much under estimated principle that nourishes us as humans.


Here's what I have learnt along the way:


Blue Health:

Sea swimming is known to stimulate the parasympathetic system which is responsible for rest and repair and can trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. We all need a little extra dopamine hit every now and again.

Sea water is rich in magnesium, it can help us relax, relieve stress and promote sleep. For the spiritually minded it is a place to tune in and tap into the experience on another level.

You can’t get anymore up close and personal with nature than a swim in the sea. It’s nature truly in your face, a sea swim dunk, is like a brain reboot!


Early birds see the sunrise:

You can’t beat a sea swim at sunset or sun rise, it is a moment to cherish our beautiful planet. I have swum at the summer equinox celebrating the longest day and the winter solstice welcoming the colder, darker months. The rise of a new dawn and the end of a day are simple pleasures that are food for the soul.


"Fancy swimming 5KM?":

"Ok - can I bring my jelly babies?"

After 6 months of sea swimming, I took part in my first ever 5KM swim along the Brighton coastline with 60 of my fellow dippers. I loved being part of the event, my medal at the end and my smug collapse on my sofa after.

I have since learnt jelly babies dissolve after long periods of sea immersion.

"Does anyone have an elephants head?"

January is my favourite month, our dippers group have fancy dressed themed swims: animals, nautical, glitz and glam. The guiding principle is that the outfits distract us from the cold - weirdly enough it works.

You have got to applaud the random outfits people own and the utter delight they take in wearing them along with wetsuit boots and gloves. What we lack in style we more than make up for in our shared ridiculousness and on our Friday moments of madness.


Beach Sauna:

We are now treating ourselves to some heat after our winter swims, experiencing the seasons in the sauna, whacking ourselves with birch and eating oranges. You leave with a Ready Brek Glow!


I have a weird of love of black rubber:

No longer are my prized possessions my pink high heels and sparkly top. I am a covert to my game changing wet suit gloves, boots and bobble hat. No glamour here, just simple ways to stop freezing to death, keep chilblains at bay and stop feet turning to painful blocks of ice. Puts the fun into freezing!


Happy to be a "Pilchard":

We say swimming but when the sea is rough, it’s mostly dipping, whooping, laughing, pilcharding (rolling about in the surf) and embracing the salty fun followed by a rosy glow.


Terminology:

Dip and dine: it is an unwritten rule that hot drinks, baileys and cake must be consumed after long swims.

Dip and flip: you do your dip and then change into your work outfit

Killer Whales: The “friendly” term used by hardcore skin swimmers to refer to their fellow wet suited dippers.

Tarzan swim: is the equivalent to elegant old ladies that don’t get their hair wet.


Random learnings along the way:

I now have an app for the tides, follow Surfers against Sewage, taken part in a research project for a university student designing a portable bacteria sea tester, been filmed by the BBC at 6am for a news clip covering the release of the swimming film, Vindication Swim and have discovered Cath Pendleton - The Merthyr Mermaid on Insta. I have also have plunged, bathed, gonged, whacked and whooped along the way.


Dippers Community:

Once a week you get a snapshot into the lives of other people, you hear stories and swap tales. I have met lots of interesting people that I would not normally get to meet, a lady that lives on a boat, a phlebotomist, a mushroom micro doser, author, gong bath enthusiast, history podcaster, flying squad officer, property developer and of course my fellow fancy dress lovers, disco queens and fellow mermaids.

Once a week I look forward to my swim, a couple of hours which is totally mine, to just be me, dip, download, reboot and go forth with a spring in my step.

Little did I know that one morning a year ago could be the catalyst of so many salty learnings.


PS Daily exercise and sea swimming means I sleep much better now.

Signed a devoted dipper and a mermaid in the making.

SIGNATURE





Nicky Chisholm

Contributor Images 33

My very first adventure was on a Tall Ship called The Sir Winston Churchill when I had just turned 18.

I have loved adventures ever since. Although I still get seasick 30 years on!

I would describe myself as an everyday adventurer. I try and squeeze adventure into my every day from walks, swims and runs to film, podcasts and books. I am always on the look out for communities to connect with and adventures to be found.

I have just hit 50 and my adventure journey has changed so many times over the years, from a 20-year-old canoeing and sailing instructor, to a Mum with young children teaching them to embrace the outdoors through camping, building dens and cooking on open fires, to a mum of young teens when we surfed, coast steered, climbed Ben Nevis and swam in the North Sea!

My boys are in their late teens now and are slowly flying the nest, it is here I find myself now, ready to embrace the next stage of my adventure journey.

Embracing my new found freedom and loving being outside, I am ready to do some exploring!

My adventure journey has included Moonwalks, marathon walks along Hadrians Wall and the South Coast, firewalks, abseiling down castles, coast steering, a cross country ski marathon in the Arctic Circle, a wing walk and training in an Environmental Cold Chamber at the University of Sussex at minus 20!

I have just come back from running a 1/2 marathon in Greenland - the biggest and most extreme event I have ever taken part in. This Arctic adventure has definitely left me with a fire in soul for more adventures.

This year I will be walking in the Lake District, hiking around the Isle of Wight and organising a mega sea swim for over 500 "mermaids" to celebrate International Women's Day.

Come and join me to celebrate International Women's Day in Brighton - March 11th

When I am not on an adventure I am working with my beautiful VW Camper Van called Daisy on photo shoots.

Take a look at DaisyVW here


Happy Adventuring

Nicky Chisholm aka #PinkNicky

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