One of the best things about moving to the West for me is the Atlantic Ocean. I started swimming in the sea before I could walk. I have great memories of swimming lessons with my Dad on the beach. Once I could swim I would stay in the water for ages, long after all my friends had turned blue with the cold. I often wished I could become a mermaid so I wouldn’t ever have to get out of the sea!
I can’t imagine ever living away from the coast. There are some stunning beaches on the east coast of Ireland and I’ve probably been swimming on most of them but there’s something very special about swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The water feels effervescent, full of life and energy and incredibly refreshing. Every day, no matter what the weather, I try to make time for a swim. The initial shock of the cold never really goes away and it’s like a jump start for the heart. Then, once I fully immerse, my body temperature stabilises and I feel like I’m back in my natural habitat.
Swimming is probably the best mindfulness therapy you could ever experience. During a swim you can really only think about staying afloat and getting to and from your watery destination. I swam all during my pregnancy up to the day Little P was born. I’m sure it was very good for my physical fitness but even more valuable to me were the psychological benefits. As a life long worrier pregnancy was a bit of a nightmare for me. I worried for nine months about everything, I even spent time worrying about the things I should be worrying about but didn’t actually know about yet. The only time I didn’t worry was when I was in the water. It was a lifeline just to shut down the anxiety and forget completely about pregnancy and the impending time bomb that was labour. My body went weightless so I even forgot about my bump for a short while.
My first swim about 6 weeks after Little P was born was wonderful. I felt like me again and I’ve continued regularly since. It’s a thing I do just for myself and I think it’s important for everyone to have something like that in their life.
Now I’m no Rachel Lee (fastest Irish swimmer of the English Channel and on my hero list) but I can swim and I can endure the cold. I need to work a lot harder on my technique and my fitness. There are some amazing men and women I watch during my daily swim that cover huge distances. I’m full of admiration for them. So, feeling inspired, one of my new goals is to work on my stroke and my breathing and by next summer I can join them at least as far as the second swimming buoy!
I was also really hoping that Little P would like the water so I’ve been taking her to the beach since she was tiny. Now my difficulty is getting her out of it! She’s like a little mermaid herself and I’m looking forward to teaching her to swim just like my Dad taught me all those years ago.