Swimmers take North Sea dip to promote wellbeing
- Credit: Mick Howes
The benefits of taking a dip in the North Sea to boost mental and physical health took centre stage on Lowestoft seafront as dozens of swimmers helped promote World Mental Health Day.
Around 60 members of the Lowestoft-based Sea for the Soul group linked up with the RNLI on the town's South Beach to promote mental wellbeing and staying safe in the sea.
The RNLI says that in the last 18 months there has been an explosion of interest in outdoor swimming and is offering advice on how groups such as Sea for the Soul and individuals taking a dip in the chilly North Sea can stay safe.
As well as promoting the sea safety message, Sunday's event also saw the swimmers support the ethos of World Mental Health Day by creating a human chain to recreate its logo and also holding hands in a large circle in the sea.
Kerry Burwood, 52, is a member of Sea for the Soul.
After taking part in a dip she said: "The benefits of the group are positivity, kindness and inclusivity. For the mental health benefits if you are having a bad day you come down on the beach and immediately feel better.
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"It is you, the sea and your thoughts and maybe being together."
Another member, Toni Keable, 42, said: "It's been proven the physical benefits of cold water swimming, it lowers your blood pressure, it lowers your anxiety, but it is much much more than that.
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"It's the mental benefits of having a group that meets every week. You know they are going to welcome you with open arms. You don't have to worry about what you look like.
"It's so rare in today's world to be in a place that comfortable and you don't have to worry about all those external things."
NLI Water Safety team member Liam Fayle-Parr and who is also a member of Sea for the Soul, said he was delighted to see so many swimmers taking part in promoting sea safety and the importance of World Mental Health Day.
He said: "It's incredible to see so many people here today to spread such an important message."
RNLI safety advice
The RNLI’s key safety advice for taking a winter dip is:
Never swim alone.
Always check the weather forecast, including tide information and wave height.
If in doubt, stay out – there is always another day to go for a swim.
Take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip.
Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock.
Acclimatise to the water temperature slowly – never jump straight in.
Stay in your depth and know your limits.
If you get into trouble remember: float to live.
Take a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
If you or someone else is in trouble call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.