HERE’S why The Bluetits Chill Swimmers gain so many new members in the winter
Many people will go for a dip in the sea on New Year’s Day – and for some, it’s a strictly annual event. But for others, it will be the beginning of a love affair with cold water dipping.
The Bluetits Chill Swimmers, whose foundation in 2014 marked the beginning of a global movement that now has over 100,000 members, sees an influx of new people joining in the New Year.
Bluetits founder Sian Richardson says it’s a great time of year to start. The Bluetits began with her own decision to swim in the sea through the winter, and its numbers always go up during the winter. Sian believes this is because many people love the challenge of winter dipping, and because it provides a sociable way to get outdoors during the darker months.
New Year is an especially popular time to join because it’s when many people want to make a fresh start.
“New Year is about new beginnings, it’s about doing the things we always wanted to do,” says Sian. “Some people do a New Year’s dip for charity and then realise they like it and want to keep doing it.”
Many people have certain barriers to overcome before they embrace dipping, however.
“Some people are worried about making a fool of themselves or that they won’t fit in because of their body shape – they feel they’re too big or too thin,” says Sian. “I encourage people to come along, bring a cup of coffee and just sit down with no intention of swimming, and see what it’s like.
“I tend to recommend they bring a swimsuit just in case, because once people get to the beach and see everyone having fun, they usually want to go in too. If you come along to a group, you will see someone just like you, who is dipping with joy and confidence.”
Another common concern, especially for people joining in the coldest months, is that they will get hypothermia.
“This is why it’s a good idea to go with a group,” says Sian. “We don’t stay in long – in January and February we’re out again in two or three minutes.”
The adrenaline rush caused by the dip combined with the post-dip camaraderie, coffee and chatter, adds up to a huge mood boost.
“It just makes you feel alive,” says Sian. “You go home with a smile on your face – and the sense of achievement is even greater in the winter, when it takes real courage to get in the water.”
She adds that another benefit of cold water dipping is that it’s free.
“Particularly with this winter of financial crisis, joining a gym is going to be a challenge for a lot of people because it costs money,” says Sian. “Cold water dipping is free. Many of us end up buying all sorts of bits of kit as we get into it, but you can start for free and there’s always kit being swapped around, so it can remain pretty much free.
“Dipping excites this joy and childishness in you. There’s the screaming, the swearing, the laughing, the drinking coffee in the outdoors – and it makes you feel like a superhero.”