Updated: Mar 1, 2020
The search for contentment and inner peace is an age old quest for humanity, and yet for each individual it is a new journey of self discovery. Last year I began to question (amongst other things) why swimming in the sea had become such an important part of my life. I knew I enjoyed the physical exertion of swimming, but there was more to it than just exercise. When a friend gave me a beautiful little book by a wild swimmer, Lynne Roper, the first few lines I read made my heart leap it struck such a chord with the feelings I have when I swim.
“It’s a spiritual experience, sliding through wild water. Worries dissolve, my mind is liberated; thoughts flow and glide and play like dolphins. My soul swims wild” Wild Woman Swimming.
I swim for mindfulness, to take time in my day for an experience that clears my mind, refreshes my body and calms my soul. To be immersed in the sea that surrounds my home, to feel it, smell it, watch it and all the plants and creatures that live in it. The tiny yellow periwinkle, the brown shore crabs, jellyfish, spiral worms, shannys, squat lobsters and sea spiders to name but a few. To inhale droplets of salty spray, to feel the delicious icy cold on my skin, to sense the freedom, the solitude. When I swim there are no aching joints or physical restrictions of age or weight. Just weightlessness, movement and mindfulness. There was a time when I was afraid of the sea. Wary of the creatures that lurk beneath. Afraid of the waves, the tides and the cold. Unable to put my face in the water. Such a long way I have come as I now spend most of my swims submerged below the surface imagining I am a seal or a diving shag. The sea is now my companion, my challenger. It influences my soul with it’s power, it’s gentleness, it’s energy and it’s calm. I am no longer afraid of the sea but still wary of this powerful force. I don’t underestimate it or trust it wholeheartedly but I better understand it….we have a relationship.
The storm has passed and today the sky is clear blue and bright sunshine. The unseasonal warm spring that we felt in February has gone and a chill wind has returned, bitting at the finger tips. The sea is a mesmerising turquoise, such a stunning blue/green colour that words to truly describe it elude me. The beach at quay is strewn with bladder wrack, sea lettuce, oyster theif and thick, brown leathery straps of kelp. As I swim front crawl out of the bay towards the first blue buoy, there is hardly a wave and no swell. Cascades of silver bubbles flow out from my hands as they pull through the water. I dive to the seabed, legs kicking, arms pulling, down into the blue to touch the grainy sand. Then, lungs bursting, I glide up towards the light. As I reach up, the light is ethereal, pale pale blue and silver and the sunlight radiates through the water to meet me. I dive and tumbleturn simply playing in the water, enjoying the freedom of movement. Hundreds of tiny silver bubbles pop and tickle my skin and dazzel my vision. Then the swim back towards the shore, a wonderful rhythm of stroke and pull and breath that becomes almost hypnotic.