Wild Swimming the Dorset Tea Way
Connecting with nature has always been a sure-fire way of resetting the mind, gaining perspective, and supporting mental well-being. With increased use of digital devices, work and family meetings over zoom and the confinement of the long winter Lockdown, it has never been more important to immerse oneself in the natural world. You can therefore understand why so many people have taken up wild swimming; the ultimate in nature immersion, where the size and scale of our immediate worries are put into perspective against the vastness of the body of water.
Where to enjoy Wild Swimming in Dorset
We are lucky enough to live in one of the most amazing counties, full of beautiful beaches, vast seas, and secret coves with a wealth of places to enjoy an exhilarating and refreshing wild swim. From the vast bays of Bournemouth and Weymouth to the secret beaches of Ringstead and Worbarrow Bay, there really is something for everyone to enjoy a salt water experience.
Wild Swimming with Dorset Tea
The Dorset Tea team are complete water babies, with a love for sailing, paddle boarding, sea and river swimming. One team member spent the long winter Lockdown months taking a dip in the sea 3 times a week as a personal challenge to swim a full year in the sea. Here is why she loves wild swimming so much.
“Wild swimming is almost like a religion, where committed practice leads to real spiritual renewal. Everything about the act of wild swimming is exhilarating. It all starts the night before a sea swim when I am just like an excited child on Christmas Eve. The ceremony of preparing Santa’s tray is replaced with kit bag prep where I methodically pack everything in order of requirement. Post dip warm clothing start at the bottom with fleecy leggings, fluffy socks, sheepskin gloves and 2 tops neatly folded. A towel goes on top, followed by the essential kit for the job; neoprene gloves, swimming booties, 2 swim caps and goggles. Costume, wetsuit jacket and wetsuit are placed on top ready to be slipped into when the 6.30am alarm calls.
The warmth of my bed is tricky to leave when the wake-up siren sounds. However, I know that there will be more regrets lying there and sleeping on rather than plunging into the cold sea. So, with swimming costume on and wetsuit at half mast I grab my bag, dry robe and boots and head off to the kitchen to boil the kettle. The kettle holds the most important elixir for post swim warmth; both external and internal. Ready and waiting to receive this liquid gift, sit my Dorset Tea flask and hot water bottle. The hot water bottle understands its second-class citizen status, Dorset Tea will always win once I’m out of the cold sea. It knows internal warmth is far more important than the instant comfort of its warmth on skin. Its time will come, and the love will be long lasting as it’s held dearly like an old teddy bear for the whole journey home.
Arriving at the beach is where the true excitement starts. As I turn the corner to park the car and spot the sea, it’s like seeing your true love, as my heart skips a beat with the anticipation of the cold and the thrill of being immersed in the seas’ vastness hits me.
My fish friends are there, waiting with the same anticipation and we hide our semi-fear through laughter and jokes guessing how cold it will feel and how crazy we are. But at the end of it all we know our faces will be beaming with broad smiles from the experience.
We enter the water together, laughing and gulping as the cold water rushing into our wetsuits. Holding our arms up as high as possible to avoid contact with the cold water, dreading the moment we must plunge forward and commit to the cold and the swim. But then it happens, one person dares to submerge, and then the dominos start to fall until we are all in in, swimming in our precious pod, connected and rhythmic, immersed in the beauty of the sea.
As breath and stroke find their rhythm, I stare at the horizon with the sun just starting to rise and have a sense of utter gratitude for this gift. The gift to be physically able to swim and the fortune to live close enough to the beach to be able to do this whenever I can. I’m also grateful to be part of such a precious community where swimmers of all levels come together to find peace and inner calm. The convivial warmth of this group is as healing as the cold-water shock of the wild swim. Laughter resonates around the beach as we compare notes of how cold the water felt that day. Admiration pours from us neoprene-clad swimmers over rosy-pink skin swimmers as we shiver in the cold winter wind.
Then it’s time to battle with the real elements as we wrestle to unwrap ourselves from wetsuits in the ‘artic’ wind and drizzle. This is when Dorset Tea’s warming nectar hits the spot. Alternating sips of hot tea with peeling off wet layers the warmth gradually reaches our core as we chatter about the day ahead and plan our next swim. Gloves on, woolly hat donned, card doors slam a loud goodbye to this glorious moment, as cars steam inside and goodbye waves are met with electric smiles.
Until next time dear fish friends, I’m already counting the hours!
If you are interested in taking up Wild Swimming, there are some basic safety rules to follow. These can be found at the Outdoor Swimming Society website
Dorset Tea’s Guide to Essential Wild Swimming Kit
- Dorset Tea Sunshine Blend. Nothing warms the cockles of your heart like a cup of Dorset Tea after a wild swim.
- Dryrobe – we love their strapline “Get changed. Stay warm”. These are the best investment you will ever make if you are going to start wild swimming. These robes give you instant warmth and allow you to change anywhere without compromising your modesty.
- Synergy Neoprene Thermal Swim Gloves – whether you intend to skin swim or wear a wetsuit, gloves are a must in the colder winter months. Wearing gloves will allow you to have fully functioning hands ready for changing into dry clothes. Zippers will be more manageable, and warmth will come quicker!
- PAWHITS Wetsuit Socks 3mm Neoprene Socks Thermal – again skin swimmer or wetsuit, you’ll need your booties for those colder months. There is nothing worse that leaving the water and feeling like you are walking on stumps when you don’t have your feet covered. It will also help with the overall warming up of your extremities.
- Woolly Hat – your choice! The thicker the better. Get this on as soon as you take your swimming hat off. We all know that warmth escapes out of the head first so trap it in a lovely, fun, sunny woolly hat😉
And last of all, take care, dive in, and feel alive, you will never ever regret any swim, no matter how cold the water.