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Sea swimming essentials every first-timer should have on their list


By Sarah Finnan
20th Oct 2021

Morsa Images / Getty

Sea swimming essentials every first-timer should have on their list

Sea swimming essentials that might come in handy if you decide on finally taking the plunge.

Sea swimming has been one of my own personal saving graces over the past year. Forced to put my daily dips on hold when the 5km travel restrictions rule came into play, I’ve been biding my time for several months now, just waiting for the moment when I could return to the coast and throw myself into the sea once more. 

Thinking back on the past year, it can often be hard to find high points to focus on. It hasn’t necessarily been plain sailing and there were definitely times when the grey clouds seemed like they’d never let up. But as is often the case, hindsight is 20/20 (literally in this case) and one thing I’m thankful for is the sea. 

While the phenomenon of sea swimming is nothing new – we’ve been watching people brave the ice-cold waters for years – something does seem to have changed lately. There has been a universal (or at least nationwide) shift in attitude and while once we looked on in horror, now the sight of someone wading out until they’re fully submerged makes us jealous that we’re not out there with them. 

Maybe lockdown is to thank for our newfound appreciation of the small things, maybe it’s following online accounts extolling the virtues of a quick dunk in the sea… maybe it’s a combination of both. The reasoning doesn’t necessarily matter, what’s important is that we now know what we’ve been missing out on all these years. And between Galway swimmers campaigning to have the Salthill tidal pools restored and beaches down in Rebel County getting better amenities (including hot showers), there’s never been a better time to hop in the sea. 

Having spent the large majority of my childhood living in landlocked Longford, some might say that I missed out on the formative sea swimming years, but to those people I say, “not so”. Like most things in life, discovering the things you enjoy takes time. The saying goes that there are plenty of fish in the sea, but what no one tells you is that there is plenty of space too – so throw on your togs and get out there. 

Not quite sure what one might need for their first sea swim? Here are a few essentials I’ve found to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. 

Swimsuit 

Naturally a good swimsuit is number one on the list… unless you plan on frequenting The Vico and going in completely starkers that is. In which case, more power to you. If you’d rather a bit of a material barrier between you and the sea, investing in a long-sleeved swimsuit should be of top priority

Salty Blonde Feelin Salty – Long Sleeve One-Piece Swimsuit for Women, €120
Recycled Plastic Batoko Lobster Print Swimsuit, €58

Swim socks 

Granted, you may not think that they look very cool, but swim socks are an absolute game-changer. Hard to say if it’s a placebo or not, but having your feet covered really does make you feel warmer. Happy feet = happy humans. 

Adult aquasocks swimming socks, €15

Dryrobe

The topic of much conversation in South County Dublin, dryrobes have become a somewhat disputed addition to the sea swimming essentials list. Dubbing them “fancy fleeces”, an article published in The Guardian last year seemed to suggest that the new must-have accessory caused a bit of tension between old-timers and newly-initiated sea swimmers. While I won’t weigh in on that debate, I will say this – as someone who is eternally cold, the thought of stepping out of the water into what is essentially a wearable sleeping bag appeals to me endlessly. 

Blackrock Beachwear Surfrobe with Sherpa Fleece Lining, €120
Orca Robe, €129

Flask 

The post-swim treats are as key to the experience as the actual attire. A little bit of forward planning will enable you to pull together a few bits to ensure your cold hands have something warm to wrap themselves around once you emerge from the sea. Pack a flask of tea/coffee/hot chocolate, pick up some pastries en route, et voilà – you have yourself a pretty great picnic.

Flasket Bottle – Stone, €27
Emma Bridgewater Garden Insulated Bottle by Chilly’s, €31

I’m not quite sure how reincarnation works, but if given the choice, I want to come back as a dolphin in my next life.