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Changing Seasons - Bealtaine

Super swimmer and Feral Friend Dee Newell talks us through the changes she sees in and around the water as we mark the passing of May Day.  



This is the midway point between the spring equinox and summer solstice, it signifies the start of the summer and it is a time when year round swimmers see real change, it is a time of longer chats with friends but also can be a time of being caught short as you may leave without some gear thinking the water will be much warmer than the reality. Depending on where you swim the water may still be below 10 degrees and as I have learned on 1st May, it can even be as low as 5.5 degrees still in mountain rivers. The change in temperature and weather can as always be tracked on the weather apps, the sea temperature on marine buoys or on a fitness tracker watch but there are other changes you may not even realise are happening until you sit and think about it. I’ve added my top three subtle changes below and a few changes in my kit that happen as a result.


The Foot Test

The first sign of a change in swim season comes with the foot test, can you comfortably walk between the sea and your changing area without needing footwear? When you can that’s when you know things are getting warmer, this is still just the land warming, the sea takes a bit longer to follow.

Clear Water

The next big visible change comes in the sea, I’ve really noticed it this April on the East Coast of Ireland but when I think of it, the same is true for last April, this is the time of amazing visibility in the water. I put the question out on an Instagram story to see if anybody know why this way but it seems to be just the timing of a period of dry days alongside calm seas. The sea temperatures on the east coast start to creep up around this time too, not over the 10 degree sweet spot but warm enough to to comfortably play in the sea with a GoPro for a little while without the fear of your hands being too numb to change yourself after a swim. 

Faffing and Photos

The air temperature also warms and there is heat in the sun which means some post swim faffing and photos is no longer hardship or dangerous. On a winter's day I will often point blank refuse a photo with a friend because contrary to popular belief if it's not online it did still happen, and it can often seem that I have tunnel vision from water's edge to Turtleback and the warmth of the towels wrapped in a hot water bottle which await within. Another lovely part of this time of year is that it’s still a bit too early for seasonal swimmers to return to the sea, this year is a bit of an exception with pools being closed but, still plenty of quiet spots to enjoy if you know where to go and are willing to bring your own coffee and snacks for after. 

Essential kit

What I consider to be essential kit does change slightly with the change in season, but nothing too drastic as we still have quite a way to go before it really warm and even then I would usually just up my time in water so more often than not still be pretty cold on my exit.

The first change will be my tinted goggles will come out, I generally always wear clear goggles in winter as the light is generally subdued, and it makes it easier for my swim buddy to see my reactions. My bag will contain less “just in case” extra clothes for layering up and blocking wind. I will get back to cycling for swims which is where “the spot” would come into its own a handy addition for anyone cycling and using a pannier bag rather than a Turtleback. What will remain for now are my towels wrapped in a hot water bottle and a lovely big flask of something warm along with a sweet treat ...did somebody say fudge? My GoPro and GDome case will also be a firm fixture for the summer ahead as the quest for the perfect underwater selfie continues.



If you are new to outdoor swimming and feel inspired to give it a go, please ensure you do so safely. 

If it's your first dip, don't go alone.  

The Outdoor Swimming Society has a great list of local swimming groups which is well worth checking out and a quick search on Facebook should provide results.

And if you have any questions, pop a post in the Swim Feral Facebook page and our fantastic community of swimmers will be sure to help. 

Happy swimming xx



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