Battery Belles and Buoys are a wild sea swimming group located in Penzance, Cornwall. Everyday at 11am they gather for a swim off the Battery Rocks. Bright coloured swimming hats and swimming costumes are worn, standing out against the white walls and rocks. It becomes a spectacular sight for passers-by who often stop and watch in fascination. They go swimming all year round; even in the winter months there is not a wetsuit in sight, regardless of how cold it is. The group brings together a unique bunch of people, all with different backgrounds and stories. Strong friendships have been made as a result and every morning is filled with laughter, there is always a smile on someone’s face. Each swimmer swims for their own personal reasons, either for health or their mental wellbeing, but together they share the experience of dipping into the icy water, an exhilarating feeling that they strive for each morning.
A few of the swimmers have described their own experiences:
Alison Meaton aged 57:
“As soon as I get into the water I just feel at home, completely at home, I feel like a dolphin or something. I just love being supported by the water… Your whole body gasps at the shock of it but in about 20 seconds you just feel, I can’t describe it really, it’s just like being completely alive and all your senses have been heightened.”
Ros Luxford aged 57:
“I never ever thought that I would be swimming all year, I have never really been the type because I thought I would feel the cold too much but I went with my friends and they encouraged me and now this is my 19th winter that I have swum all year. It makes me feel well, I have a fairly stressful job and to just go in the sea I just forget about everything… and I feel as well from a health point of view that it protects my immune system and its fun and I feel its what makes me different without that I don’t feel I’m different to anyone else”
Alison Davey aged 54:
“The wild water swimming is important to me because its not about the exercise, its not about how far you go or how long you stay in its what it gives you when you are in there and when your in there it just clears your mind, so if there’s any bad things going on in your life, lets face it most people there is always some level of stress going on, when you actually hit that freezing water your mind instantly clears and it goes into survival mode and so your brain gets a chance to take a break.”
Denise Gent aged 69:
“I have swam all my life from a child my family are big swimmers anyway but as for swimming all year round every single day this will be my 5th winter… My favourite part is free diving and finding the creatures, swimming with seals, swimming with massive jelly fish, yes I think the underwater part is my favourite.”
Together they are an inspiration for aspiring wild sea swimmers.
by Carys Davies