Why I love . . . cold-water swimming

I have found my cold-water experiences both exhilarating and invigorating

Julie-Ann Somers: “I soon realised that after a hectic week at work, my swim at either Seapoint or The Forty Foot became a high point of my weekend.”

For many years I have participated in the summer season of sea swimming. However each September, following the Liffey Swim, I have left the outdoors behind and returned to the indoor pool.

Last winter was different. My fellow swimmers and I decided to continue with our open-sea sessions for as long as was bearable. I soon realised that after a hectic week at work, my swim at either Seapoint or The Forty Foot became a high point of my weekend. I equally looked forward to chatting with the other swimmers about the sea conditions that day over a coffee. It could be said that I had now been gripped by a new passion for cold-water swimming. By November, as the temperatures started to plummet, the challenge became greater and my ski thermals proved more useful than ever! Gradually, the possibility of ice swimming started to become a reality.

New challenge

Inspired by some courageous swimmers from Dublin Swimming Club who led the way in this extreme sport, I embraced this new challenge. I set myself the target of completing an ice mile at Wild Water Armagh in 12 weeks. To aid acclimatisation, I swam a kilometre there in ice-cold water on three occasions.  To my delight, I successfully completed my ice mile two weeks ahead of schedule and was welcomed as a member of the International Ice Swimming Association.

I have found my cold-water swimming experiences both exhilarating and invigorating. The release of endorphins and the boost to immunity are well-known benefits of sea swimming, to which I attribute the absence of a cold or flu last winter.

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Summer has rolled around again and I realise that I have completed one full year of swimming in the sea. I am excited about the season of Leinster Open Sea races and the new swimming adventures that await my swimming friends and me next winter.