My Sea Swimming Essentials

Brilliant bits and bobs for the lido or wild swimming

It’s nearing the end of October and I am still swimming in the sea! Although I’ve always loved sea swimming, I’ve never kept going beyond September before and I think it’s possible that I am now slightly addicted to the colder water. Mum and I are hoping to keep going until at least November, but we reckon if we make it that far we might as well keep going right through to spring. Which is when, as we discovered earlier this year, the water is at its coldest! But I reckon we’ll be acclimatised to it then, right?! 

In the past few weeks we’ve started wearing a few more layers, and there are some items that I couldn’t be without. All sustainable where possible, of course! So if you’re also one of the many people taking up wild swimming or doing a daily dip in the lido, here are the items that I swear by to make the whole experience as practical and cosy as possible.

Changing coat

‘Escapism’ recycled sherpa lined changing robe, £119.95 (passenger-clothing.com)

Mum and I both invested in one of these a few months ago and I can’t recommend them enough. We’re pretty chuffed that by picking a sustainable brand that’s quite new, we’ve also been gaining the attention of the seasoned sea swimming ladies at our local beach! Ours are from Passenger Clothing, and are made from recycled polyester. They have three colours to choose from and either long sleeved or poncho styles – mum and I went for the sherpa lining in black (her) and rust (me). I would advise going up if you think you’re between sizes so that you have plenty of room to move your arms around underneath. I also use mine to go to the pool (no one seems to bother with changing rooms anymore!) and I have to admit I’ve walked the dog in it too because it’s so cosy!

Voited blanket, £99, and poncho, £79.95 (voited.co.uk)

Another brand making recycled changing coats is Voited. My sister-in-law has one of the ponchos and she is thrilled to bits with it. She likes it because it gives her enough space to cycle home, too. If you’re an outdoors type, Voited also makes beautifully illustrated recycled waterproof blankets.

Swimming top

Sustainable long sleeve top, £110 (davyj.com)

I have a wetsuit for paddleboarding, but I don’t like swimming in it because it’s too restrictive, so one of the first things Mum and I bought earlier this year (yes, we always buy the same thing in a different colour!) was our long sleeve tops from Davy J. This lovely swimwear brand only uses recycled materials and is designed by a woman who herself swims year-round in the sea, so you know that practicality is front and centre of each piece. They really work to give your essential organs more warmth, and the sleeves have a thumb hole to keep them firmly over your hands. Oh, and they’re MUCH easier to take off than a wetsuit! There are lots of other products that have caught my eye, including the super high waist bikini bottoms and all-in-one swimsuits. 

Towelling robe

Rapanui organic cotton robe, £40 (rapanuiclothing.com)

I’m not using this now that the temperature has dropped but it’s worth mentioning anyway as I use it every day in the summer. This slightly retro towelling change robe from circular brand Rapanui is made from organic cotton and when you’ve eventually finished with it, you can send it back to be made into something new. This is a full family affair – I bought one each for my parents a couple of Christmases ago and made my husband get one for me!

Slip-ons

‘Howser III’ slide, £54.99 (keenfootwear.com)

Whatever you do, don’t wear lace-up shoes to get to your swim! Because lacing them back up when you have cold, wet hands is the last thing you’ll want to do. I’m still in my beloved recycled rubber Freedom Moses sandals but I’ve just ordered a new pair of recycled slip-on mules from Keen (these are a kind gift from the brand). They come in a variety of colours, as well as a more substantial slipper style and a bootie.

ReEMBER recycled trainers, £65 (teva-eu.com)

Teva also has some recycled slip-on trainers that would be a great option; made from recycled stuff and lined with snuggly microfibre, they also have an optional fold down heel to make life easier when you just want to get back in the car as quickly as possible!

Throw-it-all-in bag

‘Naija’ deadstock nylon shopper, £35 (kemitelford.com)

No-one likes a soggy bag, which is why this nylon one from Kemi Telford, made from deadstock materials sourced in India, is brilliant. It’s designed to be a shopper (which I also use mine as) so it’s massive, and is ideal for throwing my wet gear in at the end of a swim. Because it’s not porous, it dries in no time, too.

My extra tips

  1. Download the Safer Seas app

From the good people at Surfers Against Sewage, the Safer Seas App is a way of keeping track of something I’d rather not have to keep track of: sewage outages. Thanks to the not so good people at Southern Water, my local sewers can’t cope with heavy rain and when there has been too much the sewage can overflow into the sea. The app will send you alerts if your local beach isn’t safe to swim at (we’ve not been able to swim for the past couple of days). It can also auto-generate an email to your local MP after an outage so that you can lobby to get something done about it, which I have done.

2. Always swim with a buddy

I’m lucky that I always have my mum to swim with, which is really important when you are wild swimming where there are no lifeguards and you might come across unexpected hazards, like rip tides. If you want to find a local group to swim with, head to The Blue Tits, a global swimming community where you can find your tribe. The Blue Tits website also has lots of tips that are well worth a read.

3. Ankles and wrists feel the cold the most

I’m hopeful that my legs will continue to not really feel the cold – they were fine when we took our first freezing dip in April – but my wrists surprised me as being the coldest thing on my whole body, even with my Davy J long sleeve top to help. I already have a pair of old booties that I use for paddle boarding that are similar to these, but you might prefer swim socks (which my mum has – she bought second hand from a friend), and today we’re off to invest in some gloves from my local surf shop. I think these will be absolute life savers for my skinny bony bits!

4. Use an old swimsuit

You may notice that I haven’t listed a specific swimsuit in this guide (though if you are in the market for a new one, here are my favourite planet-friendly places to get one). The reason for this is that a) I don’t need a new one and b) I wear my oldest, saggiest, plain black swimsuit under my Davy J top. It’s much easier to take off under a coat and you only see the very bottom of it anyway!

I’ll be updating this blog post as my winter swimming experience progresses (or doesn’t!) and I would love to hear where you swim and your top tips too – leave comments below!

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