Sarah Kerrigan lives for her time in the sea with friends and family, drinking in nature, and enjoying a low impact exercise where her (dis)ability isn’t a factor.
For me, open water swimming is the gift that keeps on giving. As a female in my mid 20s with a total of three limbs (I have a stump as a left arm and short right leg), who deeply craves a sense of freedom and adventure, heading down the the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire for a swim with my pals greatly satisfies the ‘wild’ in me.
I’ve always been a keen swimmer, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve taken my dips outside of the pool and into the sea.
I usually go swimming with my friends from school – ‘le familia‘ as we refer to ourselves – my boyfriend or my family. It’s always key to have someone else there with you when you’re in the water for safety reasons – and I personally need someone with me to put my prosthetic leg somewhere safe after I have walked to the shore. The salt water corrodes the mechanisms inside of it – I learned that the hard way!
Once the leg is off and I’ve submerged myself in the water (yes, it is freezing and yes, we do scream) it’s full steam ahead. The craic and chats are a go, slagging each other about how scrunched up our faces were while getting in, or how we never thought our voices could reach such high pitches.
Almost instantaneously you feel in a better headspace, just from having a laugh and being out in nature.
The views from the Forty Foot and Sandycove are second-to-none. You can see out all across Dublin Bay, the whole way over to Howth – it’s spectacular. You get stunning uninterrupted views of the sunrise and sunset as well.
I am in awe of the world around me every time I take a dip and am filled with a massive sense of gratitude for what’s on my front door and the deadly humans I get to share these moments with. Honestly, it’s what I live for.
Swimming has a very high psychological and therapeutic value for me. The water allows me to move without assistance, an important discovery and experience for anyone with a disability. When out in the open water you just feel free, it’s one of the rare activities where I forget about my limitations.
In the sea, I don’t have any of the balance issues I normally would have, and I get all the benefits from moving my body, like promoting the mobility in the joints, stimulating circulation and so on.
You also really have to focus on your breath, especially at the start, so it can be a great grounding experience if you allow it to be.
In my opinion, there are countless benefits to open water swimming. Whether it’s physical, mental or emotional gains you’re after, the sea provides positives a plenty – give it a whirl yourself and see what you find 🙂
If you want to chat open water swimming with me or have any questions about what I’ve just written, please feel free to get in touch via email@example.com or contact any of us on the team here at Swim Ireland’s Me and the Water!