A late start to summer in Jersey made for any sign of sunshine through cloud and rain – a good enough reason to get in the sea. Being presented with a challenge to get in the sea come rain or shine made it a big deal, a commitment, a way of shouting from the top of the lighthouse that I can withstand the cold!
On the first day of the inaugural 30 bays in 30 days challenge I expected a quiet turn out at St Brelades due to the laid-back mentality of islanders. Most people in Jersey need to have many conversations, reassurance from their friends and at least 18 months to agree to try something new. However, it was a great surprise to see so many people – young, old, novices and even first time sea swimmers turn up to show support for a great event and two charities.
The tides and weather were sunny side up for the first week and what started out as a challenge started to feel like a holiday. The commitment to swim meant that a Sunday evening typically spent relaxing at home was changed to a Beauport excursion. A bay which is accessed by a long walk down through overhanging greenery and is so picturesque that you half expect to see Leonardo Di Caprio from The Beach trying to spearhead some fish. This is one of the nicest bays I have swam in and if you ever have visitors to Jersey you can Judith Chalmers the speedos off them with this location.
As well as trying to swim in all the bays my goal was to try and swim every day during the challenge rather than marathon my way through the bays in one weekend. This proved particularly challenging when finishing work late, feeling stressed and the call for sinking a bottle of wine was stronger than a splash in the sea. On these days, swimming in the sea became much more than a bit of outdoor exercise. The therapeutic benefits of sea water created a calmness of mind and stillness that only Mother Nature can give, one that makes you stop and feel grateful.
An unexpected and wonderful surprise to this challenge was a positive change in my physical and mental being. The inquisitive in me found out that sea water contains all the 89 known elements present in our bodies, including magnesium, potassium, osmium, gold, vanadium, zinc, and iodine (the reason why sea salt is so superior to table salt). We can absorb all of these vital elements, vitamins, mineral salts and trace elements through our largest organ, the skin, just by bathing in the sea.
Making my way around as many bays as possible also presented the opportunity to visit new places in Jersey. Egypt beach?…I didn’t even know this place existed. Archirondel definitely likes to keep its beauty secret safe and Bouley Bay is so dependable for water, it’s swimmable no matter what the tide. The shared conversations I had with elderly swimmers who manage to go into the sea like it’s a rooftop jacuzzi were especially inspiring. Thank you to the lady who I met at Green Island in a wonderful flowery one piece who told me how swimming in the sea has helped her cancer recovery; the La Rocque lady who motivated me by swearing by the sea’s anti-aging benefits. Equipped with this information I even managed to convince my mum to join me in a swim and she also fulfilled her challenge of not getting her hair wet.
A challenge is “a call to prove or justify something”.
My initial justification for joining in on this challenge was to raise money for Jersey Hospice and The National Trust for Jersey and to swim in the sea every day. The result is a renewed appreciation for my home, a call to be near the sea as much as possible, the desire to speak to all generations of Jersey’s community and my decision to keep on swimming.