My happy place by Stephen Peters #Teamselkie
13th September 2018
Hi my name is Stephen and I’m a Passionate, slightly obsessed open-water swimmer.
I have swam from very early age and can never resist the temptation to jump in pretty much any tempting water in sight.
About 6 years ago I really got into open water swimming and started competing.
Coming from a surfing background open water swimming gave me a reason to get in the water on those flat days. I am fortunate enough to live very close to the beach, near a place called The Witterings. We have mixture of different sections of beach here for swims depending on the tides and conditions.
My absolute favourite is West wittering, I love it there, it’s a beautiful place with golden sand, amazing clean water and the South Downs clearly visible over the sand dunes at East Head.
The beauty however can delude some into
Forgetting that sometimes the water can be dangerous place.
We have a harbour that runs through between Hayling Island and West wittering beach, at a section called the point. Leading to this, along the beach is a place the locals call “The Trench”. At certain points in the tide this channels all the water entering and leaving the harbour, so the currents here can take you off your feet if you’re not careful. I have had to rescue a few people out of this before and if you don’t know what you’re doing you could get into trouble here.
I quite often use this for training, like a flow pool so you can swim against the current but you’re not actually moving anywhere. The good thing is you have to keep up your pace to stop yourself going backwards.
Another place I like to swim is a little further east of this, just a few minutes down the beach in East Witteing, where my friends and I train and have our social swims almost every day in the season. We call ourselves The Jolly Swimmers. We have regular Open water coaching sessions here which is amazing. I think as a swimmer you can always improve your technique and learn to adjust in the ever-changing conditions in the open water.
In the winter months we train in the pool (fish tank) and have a regular training program which gets updated every month to keep us all on our toes.
One thing I like about being out there swimming is that it has a very calming affect on me, even when it’s howling onshore with mush burgers as far as the eye can see. I find a piece, any worries I may have or concerns usually disappear whilst I’m out there. Sometimes I even find myself working out my invoicing for the week for my garden landscaping business.
If it wasn’t for my ears I could live out there… well in actual fact my doctor said my ears are evolving slowly (I have what’s called surfers ear and rely on custom earplugs)
I have swam in some very beautiful places over the years and seen views from the water that not many people will ever see, this is an incredible thing to be able to do and I think it’s a talent we should cherish and never forget.
I’m sure if you are reading this you are most likely a fellow Selkie/ amphibious being like myself and have experienced some pretty amazing swims and maybe some slightly scary ones.
One thing I will say, and have learnt over the years from being a trained surf lifeguard and spending a lot of time in the sea in all conditions, is to respect it. It has the power to make things very difficult and dangerous in a very short space of time, I have had this happen a few times and it’s scary.
Just be sure to check the conditions, stand back and take it in. You will be surprised the more you look at it what you see happening out there with the tides/rips/ wind and currants. Push yourself but don’t push yourself into a dangerous position, listen to your body and always ask a local or a lifeguard where is safe to swim. If your unsure just stick between the red and yellow flags or don’t go in.
But all in all have fun out there, stop and look around you, take in those amazing views and feelings that not many people will ever see or feel.
Don’t forget you have a special aquatic talent…so get out there