Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club
Photographers - James Thompson, Cameron Aird.
Location - Beauport Bay, Jersey
In a modern world of searching for the warmest wetsuit or glossiest board, it’s important to acknowledge the overlooked sea swim: taking to the water with nothing but a cossie, goggles and a float. For some, this is a regular part of their routine, come rain or shine, sun or frost. The ocean is a place where humans can truly be mindful, escaping everyday thoughts and shifting into balance with the environment which engulfs our bodies - where wind, swell and waves demand new movements from our limbs every second, and attention is key.
Wallace J.Nicholls researched the effect that the ocean has on our minds, and discovered the ‘blue mind’ theory, that describes ‘the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on or under water. Research has shown that being near, in, on or under water can provide a long list of benefits for our mind and body, including lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts’
Swimming in the ocean also allows a focus on the relationship between humankind and nature, with the exhilaration of throwing yourself into the wild force of water where the swell ebbs and flows, beating endlessly like the heart of the earth. Joining with other people instantly makes the swim more fun, and gives more of a community feel. The Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club have been bringing islanders together since 1974, and continue to prove how being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.
OCL approached Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club ahead of World Oceans Day, to arrange a community swim/surf/paddle to celebrate the sea and the joy it gives us on a daily basis here on our beautiful island. Adrian, President of the Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club, gave a short introduction to the Club, described some of the benefits of sea swimming and how people can get involved with JLDSC, before we all ran into the water for a splash in the ocean.
Tamsin decided to go along with James and Cam, to experience the rush of cold-water and long-distance swimming, and see the appreciation that this group of people have for the ocean that we are so lucky to live near, and that our daily lives depend on.
Adrian has been swimming for 3 or 4 hours at a times, 6 days a week when possible, preparing to swim the English Channel this month. He switches up where he trains, from Beauport to Gorey, and the more he swims, the more he understands how lucky we are as islanders to have such a beautiful clear sea to swim in. One of his sessions is a Club swim, but even if he wasn’t training, Adrian says he would still swim most days, just maybe not for as long. It gives him a sense of freedom and tranquility, to clear his mind, relax and unwind, swim for as long as he wants and enjoy the scenery.
Bringing islanders together since 1974, Adrian advised that you shouldn’t swim alone, and if you do fancy going further ashore than usual, everyone is more than welcome to join the JLDSC by meeting at 18.00 on a Tuesday evening at St Catherines. They let people swim two or three times to see if they like their experience, before expecting membership - they know it’s good to have a little taster first. If you do want to get involved, all you need to take along with you is a swimming costume and goggles, and you can usually borrow a spare swimming cap.
There is lots of talk at the moment about nature being so beneficial for mental and physical health, but Adrian also pointed out the benefits of simply knowing more about the sea: sea swimming has made him much more aware of the dangers of water, what to do if you find yourself in difficulty, rip tides, the effects of tidal flow etc. On top of this, sea swimming is an amazing form of exercise, and because you bear no weight in the water, it is great for the joins as you get older. Cold water swimming trains your brain to ignore discomfort and continue moving despite the elements, which boosts your immune system and heightens your mood as endorphins rush through your brain.
Being part of a club allows people to see improvements and how everyone progresses, from wanting to complete big swims to coming together in relay races. Swimming brings people together who may not have known each other before, old and young, who can forge friendships through their achievements, building character and self confidence.