Meet the Bluetits

Sam and Sian are part of a phenomenon that’s sweeping the beaches of West Wales - a group of cold water swimmers better known as the 'Bluetits'.


27 May 2019

Sian, who has lived in Pembrokeshire all her life, started the group four years ago.

I started swimming with my friend Tracy, when the water was about 13 degrees. We began measuring the temperature and watching as it got colder. But we just carried on swimming. Then one day my husband said ‘since the water’s so cold, you should call yourselves the Bluetits,’ Ha ha ha.

There are about eight groups in Pembrokeshire now. There are hundreds of us - I think it’s partly because of the funny name.

Sian’s friend Sam moved to Pembrokeshire three years ago to work for an adventure company. Sam initially started cold water swimming because she wanted to get a bit healthier. But now she says it’s been a transformational experience in more ways than she could have imagined.

In the winter I used to retreat indoors. But we've been out in all weathers - howling wind, hailstones, driving rain, and those gorgeous crispy sunny days. We're in the water all the time. So you don't get cut off from the elements - I haven't noticed the winter blues this year at all.

Of course, the water does get very cold, and both Sam and Sian admit to times when they really don’t feel like going in. Sian describes the moment like this:

You take your clothes off and stand there with your swimsuit on thinking ‘Oh my goodness this is vile’. And then you decide to do it. That's when the adrenaline takes off and you just think this is amazing. And you know the euphoria that’s coming when you get out, and your coffee is waiting. That amazing feeling when you walk back up the hill, knowing that you've just done something thrilling that really scared you.

For Sam the feeling is just as intense

The first shock is when you just get undressed. And then when your feet go in - it’s bitingly cold. I usually go in up to my waist and just pause … just wait. And then when your shoulders go under it's shocking, but it's also absolutely stunning. It's the most incredible feeling.

And you see people stood on the shore line completely dressed up with just their eyes showing, thinking you must be mad. And you're floating around in the sea, it’s insane that you can achieve that!

Both women agree that there’s also a special sense of friendship and support that grows through the shared experience. Sian says

When we're in the water, we seem to listen to each other better. We've stripped all our clothes off, and our inhibitions disappear as well, and we just talk rubbish - but good rubbish. I do love swimming obviously. But it's the whole Bluetits thing that I really love - this kind of weird friendship that we all have.

Many of the Bluetits have found that cold water swimming has helped them to feel healthier, and more confident. So much so that, after a recent hip operation, Sian was back in the the water within just 10 days.

Sam pointed out that, for her, like many of the swimmers, the psychological benefits are huge too.

I'm so much calmer and so much more able to deal with stresses in work. The calmness lasts for days after a swim.

There’s one woman who swims with us regularly who cares for two elderly parents one with dementia, one with a heart condition - and her husband had a stroke a few years ago. She was really sinking. But from the moment she started to swim with us, she started coming out of her depression. And she's lost two stone; which is incredible, with all the cake we eat!

Sian and Sam both recognise the value of having someone in your corner, so we’ve invited them to trial our Realise Health Plan – health insurance that’s designed to support you on the journey to better health.

If you're feeling inspired you can find out more about Sian and Sam’s story by visting the AXA Health website.