In this podcast you will learn lots of English vocabulary about sea swimming and hear lots of interesting stories and facts about this strange Irish obsession.
Welcome to the second instalment of our new podcast series. Have you ever swum in the sea in Ireland? If not, why not? Listen to our new episode for some encouragement! We’ll hear about a woman who used to swim in the sea every day, we’ll listen to some practical advice and information about how sea-swimming affects us and we’ll get a first-hand account of swimming in icy water.
You’ll find the scripts for each part of this episode about here and don’t forget to check out the glossary at the end for English vocabulary about sea swimming which you may not have encountered before.
Episode Two: Vitamin Sea
Have you ever thought about sea swimming in Ireland? Does it make you feel cold just thinking about it? Did you know, there are loads of benefits to swimming in cold water? In this episode let us try and convince you to get in the sea at least once in Ireland. Make sure you have a cup of hot tea ready for you when you are finished.
This episode is called Vitamin Sea.
SOUND FX: Rogers and Hammerstein music
As a child, I remember visiting my granny in Dublin. She was young at heart, full of life, always singing along to musicals and driving around in her white Fiat Punto. I thought she was great. A super gran. And her cookies were to die for. But I also thought she was crazy.
SOUND FX: Seaside noises
Every morning, she would join her friends and go for a swim in the Irish Sea. That’s right, every morning, no matter the weather, no matter the season! I’m sure you know Ireland isn’t known for its tropical climate. But I remember her in the depths of winter, getting in with her flamboyant swimming hats. This was then followed by a flask of tea and chats with friends as they got dressed and warm again. This was an important part of the ritual. I could never understand why anyone would get into the sea in Ireland, especially in winter with temperatures averaging 4-6 degrees, and waters as cold as 9 degrees. She tried to get me in, but I preferred to watch from the shore. Her colourful hat bobbing in the water. I can still see it so clearly.
A lot has happened since then, almost thirty years have passed, and although she is no longer with us, she is still very much present. I now live only ten minutes away from her favourite swim spot, and every time I pass it I think of her, and she comes alive again. Not only that, but I also swim here. I must admit, I’m not swimming every day, but I do get in. If only she could see me now, I don’t think she’d believe it. Even though I thought she was crazy, I find myself doing exactly the same thing – minus the colourful hats. And I completely understand why she did it. Yes it is cold, but wow, it is invigorating, and a great way to start or end a day. Talk about blowing the cobwebs away!
FX: Lapping waves and gulls
Title: The benefits of sea swimming
Narrator: Are you feeling brave yet? If we haven’t convinced you, well science may do the trick. Now I am not a doctor, but taking a dip has a lot more benefits than you realise!
Sea water has proven benefits for those with skin conditions, due to it being rich in minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium lowers cortisol, calming your nervous system, and reducing the potential for stress-prompted skin issues. It also can help relax muscles to promote a better night’s sleep!
Hydrotherapy of all sorts has been shown to decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In fact, a study commissioned by Swim England to coincide with ‘World Mental Health Day’ found that when queried about the impact swimming has on their day-to-day life, 43% of people who swim regularly said it makes them feel happier, 26% are more motivated to complete daily tasks while 15% believe life feels more manageable.
As we all know, sea water is salty. This is good for people with sinus issues, providing relief by opening up the area with nature’s very own saline solution!
The feelgood factor
Cold water (like the Irish Sea or Atlantic Ocean) can give us a jolt of adrenaline. This burst can change our focus from physical pain and clear our minds.
Narrator: But don’t just take our word for it, and remember to always stay safe and never swim alone.
Story Three: Dee from the sea
Narrator: The next story I hope will inspire you. It is about Dee Newell, an Open Water swimmer from Ireland, swimming regularly in the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. In 2019 she completed the English Channel, a relay swim across the Irish Sea and finishing off the year with a swim from Robben Island to Cape Town. But in early 2020, Dee completed her first ice kilometre in Antarctica. This is her story:
In February 2020, I stepped aboard the Ushuia (Uuh-shoo-why-a), a ship I lived on for two weeks while travelling around Antarctica. This was a trip my friend always wanted to do, and because it is so difficult to get permission to swim in the waters of Antarctica it was an opportunity I could not miss. That meant getting into water ranging from -1.2 to 2 degrees celsius.
FX: Heart beat, underwater sound
When you swim in cold water, your body goes into survival mode and is generating heat, so you don’t usually feel cold at this point. However, when you stop swimming the “after drop” sets in. This is when you have stopped generating heat from movement and the cold blood starts to circulate. At this point you get the shivers and it can be extreme. For example, in 2016 I completed a 500m swim at 1.9 degrees celsius and the feeling in the tips of my fingers slowly returned after about four months!
On the final day aboard our ship, after testing weather conditions, and battling colds, the day had finally arrived. It was time to swim. There was no turning back, and I am happy to report that I succeeded despite the odds.
In times of adversity or challenge, something within you takes over, a determination and resilience that you didn’t even know you had. Of all of the challenges I have completed this one gives me so much pride because it is the one I really thought I could not do.
English vocabulary about sea swimming:
This glossary accompanies Episode 2 of the podcast series and will provide short definitions of words and terms you heard or read which may be new or unfamiliar to you.
- young at heart – thinking and acting like a young person
- were to die for – they were very desirable or popular (or delicious!)
- in the depths of winter – in the coldest, darkest part of winter
- she is no longer with us – she died or passed away
- blowing the cobwebs away – making you feel more mentally alert and refreshed
- taking a dip – going for a swim
- There was no turning back – a way to say that something has been decided and can’t be changed
- despite the odds – when something succeeds even though it was expected to fail
If you enjoyed this podcast and want to listen to another to another podcast to improve vocabulary and grammar, check out this episode.