Life at Intouch

Life At Intouch: Daily Sea Swims For A Month

Niall Behan
February 14, 2019
5 minute read

Life At Intouch is a blog series about the wonderful people that make Intouch successful.

The aim is to show what our team are passionate about outside of work. This week we have Niall Behan our Project Manager from the Dublin Office discussing his passion for sea swimming.


After a lethargic and at times gluttonous December, I set myself a challenge to kickstart 2019 and get in the Irish Sea, by Clontarf for a short swim everyday in January (Swimuary). With sea temperatures as low as 6°C it was definitely testing throughout. Reflecting on Swimuary; here’s what I learned:

Sea Dips Improve Your Health
Exactly as described. Within the first week in the cold water it was obvious that my overall mood had improved. I was highly energetic, I began to sleep better and my cognitive ability was at its peak. I couldn’t believe how quickly my body adjusted to the water temperature.

Overall the knock on effect the swims had were amazing. In January I lost 3 kilos, I drank considerably less, I exercised more (with shorter recovery), was cold resistant and went 31 days without a hint of illness. The cold water is incredibly good at reducing any swelling and will flush waste products like lactic acid by constricting blood flow which improves circulation. I’ll safely say the science behind cold water immersion is legit.

“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

Be Naive Yet Stubborn
There’s a certain blissful ignorance about proclaiming that you’ll complete future tasks and goals, without researching into them all too much. The dopamine kick we get by telling ourselves we will run a marathon in a year without having began training, or that you’re going to climb Kilimanjaro is fantastic. Although, there is a high probability you won’t do it.

Naivety must be coupled with stubborness and grit if you want to see results. Two weeks into January I didn’t want to get up anymore at 7am and cycle in the dark to get into the cold water before work, but I had promised myself that I would. There isn’t a greater feeling than actually completing your goals and never shy away from starting something new without much knowledge of it. Just make sure you do yourself justice and finish it out.

Discipline Can Be Learned
I can’t say that I am at the pinnacle of being super organised in any major part of my life. Although, with the knowledge that I had to get in the water every morning it was amazing how quickly things got sorted out.

By the third week I was on autopilot ensuring everything was packed, cooked and ready for the next day by 10pm. Routine is definitely important, and having goals to keep you in check is crucial. I found that habits are created in roughly three weeks.

Motivation Attracts
Having only casually advertised my challenge across my Instagram and taking into consideration the early start, I wasn’t expecting to see many people I knew at the beach. However, I was amazed that I only swam alone for 3 of the 31 days. My inbox was full of people writing words of encouragement and promising to come join.

It turned into a very positive experience whereby people would come down and support one another. It can be tough to find a non-alcoholic excuse to see your friends, yet swimuary meant I was seeing them every week. I found that people were eager from the very outset to support a goal which has showed me the value to share my motivations.

Accountability. Is. Everything.
The routine I had set for the month was to have an early swim before work on weekdays and a bit later (tide dependant) on weekends. The challenge midweek was often needing to walk 500m to reach the waters edge, as unfortunately the tide wasn’t always very responsive to the fact that I could only swim at 7:45am and no later.

Each day I posted pictures and videos documenting my journey on instagram. I was motivated to complete the goal throughout, although I certainly felt and appreciated the value of extrinsic motivation on the early mornings. Knowing that I had to post photos would get me up out of bed on the days when I absolutely didn’t want to.

Nobody wants their friends to see them fail and by documenting your experience online provides you with clear accountability.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed” – William H. McRaven

Set Smaller Goals
Jumping into the sea isn’t exactly the hardest task in the world. Sure it’s colder in winter, but once off is definitely doable. What is more difficult is keeping this up for an entire month. What I found worked for me was setting myself a daily goal of swimming that morning.

Jumping into the sea isn’t exactly the hardest task in the world. Sure it’s colder in winter, but once off is definitely doable. What is more difficult is keeping this up for an entire month. What I found worked for me was setting myself a daily goal of swimming that morning.

Therefore, I wasn’t worrying about the much larger goal of daily swims for a month. I was able to use this idea to push onto other objectives. The mantra of “I have already completing a goal today (no matter how small), what else could I do?” can be applied to anything you want to achieve.

The Sea Is Cold
The sea was between 6-9 degrees Celsius for all of this January and for context an ice bath is usually between 12 to 15 degrees. At this low temperature your body receives a shock response to the sudden immersion. This immediate shock of the cold causes involuntary inhalation and the heart has to work harder to pump the same volume of blood throughout the body. After 10 minutes in the water the body protectively cuts off blood flow to “non-essential” muscles and hypothermia usually sets in after roughly 30 minutes.

I’m never going to be able to change the temperature of the sea water. Although, I found that by accepting the situation, keeping calm and resisting mental panic I began to look forward to and truly enjoy and take control of the experience. Who knows what else can be achieved with this mindset?

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