Our favourite bit about our 'spotlight' feature, where we shine a light on people doing cool things and/or raising awareness for things close to our hearts... is well, exactly that. 

The 52 Week Swim Challenge 

Our community recently introduced us to the 365 challenge, created to raise vital funds for local community projects, improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing, rewilding marine habitats (Seagrass), reconnect people with nature and wild spaces, conservation, beach cleans and community engagement. Founded out of friendship and a desire to embrace the sea & its changing tides, temperament & environment.

The 365 Sea Swim Challenge is so much greater than it may first seem. Swim in the sea for a year? sounds great, some might say easy. But then ask yourself, why? Why would someone drag themselves into the sea in the middle of winter, in the rain, maybe in the dark just to fulfil one day of a 365-day challenge. Because the 365 gives you a reason to get up & out every day, it takes you to a place where, if you had not joined, you maybe would not go. It puts people in the wild, you feel alive, refreshed, reset & for some healed.

The founders, Chris Thomas & Rob Hunt embarked on our self imposed challenge, to swim in the sea, every day for one year without wetsuits. On completion of the journey they have donated over £10,000, created a community of support, assisted local conservation groups. This has become the bedrock for the 365. 

Find out more here 👉 52 Week Swim Challenge

Nick and his journey

We were lucky enough to cross paths with @sharpey83 who has committed to the challenge. We don't need any excuse to jump in the sea, so we spoke with Nick about the who, what, why and how he had been feeling during the project: 

"I’m taking part in the 365 Sea Swim 52 Week Challenge which requires me to swim in the sea at least twice a week for 52 consecutive weeks, without a wetsuit, in any weather to raise money for charity. The 365 Sea Swim Challenge was started in Brixham, Devon by founders Chris Thomas and Rob Hunt and now has over 60 people signed up raising money for their chosen charities. The majority of people swimming are fundraising for charities close to their heart whilst benefiting from the health and well-being benefits of cold-water swimming.

I am raising money for the Louisa Carey Children’s Ward at Torbay Hospital and Torbay RNLI. The Louisa Carey Ward has played a huge part in my family from me having meningitis at 14 to both of my daughters being treated on the ward. Knowing how we were all treated by the amazing staff on the ward make it an obvious choice for one of my chosen charities. As a youngster, I was a member of Brixham Sea Anglers Club and used to go fishing with some of the lifeboat crew who would always have to be in close proximity to the lifeboat with their bleepers in case they had a shout and had to get to the lifeboat station as quickly as possible. I have always been in awe of these real-life heroes dropping everything to head out to sea to rescue anyone who found themselves in trouble.

As well as our chosen charities, 20% of what we raise goes to the 365 Legacy Fund which supports Brixham’s Shoalstone pool; a sea water lido, and the Seal Project; a grey seal conservation charity also based in Torbay."

Personally, taking part in this challenge has been somewhat life changing. If you had told me 18 months ago that I would be launching myself into the winter sea in the wind, rain and snow I’d have told you to put your beer down and call it a night. However, if I go more than a few days without doing exactly that, I crave it. We’ve all read about cold water therapy and wild swimming; it’s benefits and impact on your mental health. Well, believe the hype. It’s like a natural reset button and everything seems a little better and more manageable afterwards.

As well as these benefits, the 365 community are a wonderful bunch of people all doing something amazing for their chosen charities and it’s been a real honour to meet them all. I’ve made some fantastic friends through the challenge whether they be fellow swimmers, supportive folk joining you for a dip or companies and brands offering their support.

It’s been a journey and one that I am super proud of and will never forget. The 365 challenge is open to anyone and can be wild swimming in rivers and lakes etc if the coast is too far. I’d recommend it to anyone." 

To find out more you can find his fundraising profile here  👉 GoFundMe

Lesley MacNamara and her journey

Follow Lesley's journey over on instagram: @lesley.thomas88

"The 365 swim challenge. Lots of people have asked ‘why?’ 

Truth behind it is that behind every smile is a story to tell. Covid has been a reality check for me. A full hysterectomy at the age of 33, a career change and a divorce meant a change in focus of life. I wanted to show my 6 year old son that no matter what the world throws at you, you have to carry on and stay strong. 

 My focus went towards my son and ME. Within focusing on me I threw myself into my fitness and I started to join my friend sea swimming as she had signed up to the 365 challenge. She can be very persuasive and it didn’t take long before she encouraged me to sign up.

Lots of people say why would you go into the sea, all weathers in a bikini? To raise awareness that no matter what happens you can carry on and be happy. I have posted countless pictures and quotes for people to read daily. Supporting people, showing people you can be happy no matter what. You will get bad days but on those days I get into a bikini (sometimes still wet from the night before) walk into the sea and leave my worries there. The feeling afterwards is like no other. 

My friend has been one of my rocks the past few years. I look up to her, admire her honesty on a bad day, admire her beaming smiles daily. If I can be someones inspiration I know I am making an impact on the world. 

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a million reasons to laugh, smile and stay strong."

December 15, 2021 — Ryde UK