Updated: 2 days ago
Growing up by the ocean has always given me a feeling of a strong connection with the water. We are all connected to the ocean, directly or indirectly, from enjoying holidays by the sea, walks on the beach, to full immersion in the water and even the air we breathe (Scientists estimate that 50-80% of the oxygen production on Earth comes from the ocean).
Growing up by the sea, I have fond memories from my childhood of being down the beach no matter the weather, jumping the waves whilst holding my Mum and Gran's hands and sitting back on the sand wrapped in a towel and sharing Gran's flask of black coffee. During the first lockdown of 2020 I found myself getting back into the water and rekindling a connection with the ocean. Also discovering something new; discovering both the physical and mental benefits that the ocean has on offer for us. From cold water therapy in the winter, building resilience and acclimatising to the cold, to floating around in the summer and being held by the ocean, watching the clouds, listening to the seagulls overhead, and even taking a look beneath the surface to see a whole new world. There are countless benefits along with the feelgood factor of spending time in nature and spending time on being present and quite simply, spending time on you. Along the way I met lots of people also doing this and finding their peace and their feelgood out in the water, some are great friends now, no matter our backgrounds, those likeminded feelings bringing us together. So not only did I find connection with the ocean but also new connections with other human beings.
Photo Credit: Pete Elliott
This got me thinking, all of those other people who find themselves drawn to the sea; swimmers, surfers, kayakers, paddle boarders, mermaids.... People from all kinds of different backgrounds and the ocean bringing everyone together creating a community. I want to meet as many people as possible and I want to share their stories from the ocean.
So here we are, 'People of the Ocean' was born. I plan on meeting as many sea people from around the UK as possible and will be adding to this blog as an ongoing project regularly so keep your eyes peeled for updates via my social media channels. Want to get involved? What are you waiting for, get in touch!
'Despite living right next to the sea for the past 23 years I never actually went in it until recently. Although I had weekly swimming lessons as a child, I never became a strong swimmer and the thought of going in the sea was scary! I was worried about getting out of my depth and also creeped out by what could be swimming in there with me! But it all changed in 2020. Me and Emily would cycle down to the beach most mornings before work and Emily would go for a swim while I watched from the shoreline. There was one morning when the sea was just so inviting and I couldn't resist anymore. I was unprepared and had no bikini or towel as I hadn't planned to go in so I just swam in my underwear! I was scared but also equally felt so f*cking alive! And that was it, I was hooked! Over time Emily helped me become a stronger more confident swimmer. I still get nervous every time I go in but that very quickly washes away and is replaced by pure joy and freedom! Swimming in the sea has really helped with my anxiety and given me so much more confidence both in and out of the sea. I especially love swimming in the sea over the winter. Its a great reminder of what our bodies and minds are REALLY capable of which really boosts my confidence in my day to day life. On the days that I've swam in the winter sea I feel like nothing can touch me or throw me off balance. If I'm met with a difficult or stressful situation I just think "You can handle this Carol! You swam in the freezing sea this morning!"
'I was born in Bournemouth on the coast and always enjoyed the water and swimming when I was young, but it wasn't until I moved away to London that I realised I had a deeper connection to the sea. I missed even just seeing the sea whilst I was away and sometimes the first thing I would do upon returning to visit would be to go and see the sea. I often swam in the summer, but started to want to explore swimming all year round. My grandfather was in the Spartans swim group, and he would swim throughout winter, even if it had snowed, so this wasn't completely alien to me, even though I never got the chance to meet him. Now I can't imagine not doing it! I find being in the sea very calming and exhilarating all at once. There is nothing but you and the water. Everything else just washes away. That coupled with the beautiful scenery means I always come out happier than when I went in. Meeting other people along the way who feel the same has been wonderful. We are all connected by this love of the sea and nature.'
'I’ve lived on the South Coast all my 47 years and feel a real connection to the sea.
I live in Bournemouth and I’ve always loved the sea, more so in the water rather than on it.
For me it’s about feeling a part of my environment, looking back at my town from the sea is such a different perspective.
Being honest, lockdown was when I spent large amounts of time on the beach, and for the past two years spent untold hours in the salty heaven.
Being part of nature is more important than thinking I’m separate from it.'
'I’ve lived in Bournemouth for 16 years and love being so close to the coast, after living in Farnborough Hampshire in my previous 32 years going to the coast was an occasional treat .
The sea has always been a place of connection and freedom for me. Sadly I have always been wary of being in the water with a fear of what’s beneath. So Lockdown was the perfect opportunity to really make to most of spending time connecting to the sea and getting over my fear of being in the sea.
Spending time in the water has really given me a place to fully connect to myself and nature. Like medicine, with some body healing, easing peri menopause systems, improving sleep and just general well being is just a few of its gifts…. Still have moments of slight fear visualising SpongeBob has help with keeping me focused and dipping. So much fun and never to old for playing in the waves one day and floating in the calm the next. No two days are the same.'
'I started cold water therapy in the middle of the winter as my sports massage guy suggested it may help my back issues - and it did and helped me with every other part of my life too!
As soon as I hit the water everything resets, my mind is clear, any niggles in my body float away and the sense of achievement sets me up for the day. EVERYBODY should be dipping as often as possible!'
Julia & Roxy
'I've always lived by the beach but not really been fussed by it or going in the sea... I'd maybe go in the sea a couple of times during the summer.
About 4 years ago I heard that cold water swimming was good for your mental health, so thought I would give it a go! Being someone that was always cold I didn't think I'd get very far into the winter! But I ended up loving it and swimming all year round... the wetsuit was quickly discarded as not needed.
The buzz and thrill I get from cold water swimming is incredible and can leave me with an amazing glow for a day or two. It also makes me feel strong and powerful, as if I can swim in the sea in December, what else can I do?
Whenever I travel I'm always looking for new spots to swim in, whether that is waterfalls or rivers, but my favourite is always the sea. There is something really powerful and grounding about immersing yourself in the sea!'
'Whenever I see a body of water, I get the very strong urge - any time of the year - to run into it. I’ve always been like this and I’m not sure why. There’s something so immersive and quite surreal about bobbing around in the sea, and I make no qualms, I’m not a sea swimmer, I’m a sea bobber. I love the feeling of weightlessness in the sea. I love being at eye level with the sea surface and the land beyond it, which, for me in Bournemouth means looking out towards the Purbecks or Hengistbury Head and the Isle of Wight. Having grown up around a muddy coastline, I never cease to find this stretch of seascape stunningly beautiful. The experience of sea swimming (bobbing) is undeniably therapeutic for me. It’s a pleasure to be here, and just a 12 minute walk from door to shore makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery every day.'
'I'm not a big sea swimmer more like a sea dipper... Always had a love for the ocean so much so that I moved from land locked Midlands to Cornwall at 18 then onto Bournemouth after a few years travelling and dipping into various ocean. I have been living in Bournemouth for the past 13 years and try to see the sea at least a couple of times a week wishing to never take it for granted. Last September I found out I was pregnant with my second child. A little surprise that threw me of balance slightly. I had a hard first labour due to preeclampsia and felt very anxious about going through it all again. The sea was my solace and I made a deal to go in for a dip at least once a week throughout the winter. As the pregnancy progressed I suffered very bad with 'morning sickness'. I started to increase my sea dips as it was the only time I didn't feel sick. As the sea grew colder through the winter months I perfected my breathing techniques and this not only helped me overcome the initial shock of the cold it helped me take control of any anxiety around the pregnancy. I continued to dip throughout pregnancy until I was told at 40 weeks that the preeclampsia had come back and I needed to be induced. The following morning I walked down to beach for one last paddle and to calm my mind. Despite the preeclampsia returning, this time I felt in control and I used my breathing and imagined each contraction were waves lapping on the shore. I had a very positive labour this time around and I thank the sea for it! In fact the first thing I asked the midwives after giving birth was when will I be able to get back into the sea?
After a few weeks of rest I am now back to sea dipping and our latest addition loves to come down with me and listen to the sea whilst I go for a dip. '