Cold Water. The Sennen Beach Christmas Swim.

Cold water hurts.

It kills.

If you fall into icy water you’re likely to suffer cold shock response.

Vasoconstriction causes a heart attack.

You’re then likely to breathe with your head under water, so if the cold didn’t get you the drowning will.

Yet swimming in cold water is so stimulating to those who engage in the practice by choice that they find it addictive.

I rarely feel so alive as when I’ve just survived another cold swim. OK, my feet hurt and I might not feel my hands for a few hours, but hey! A cocktail of endorphins kicks in that makes you feel invincible, and shocks the libido into life (apparently).

What more reason do you need?

Breathe. That’s the secret. Keep good regular deep breaths going and you’ll avoid the shock, from a medical perspective if not a physical one.

I worked for a while with The Cornish Pirates and there were a few old boys there who swam every day off the Battery Rocks behind The Jubilee Pool. That’s every day, like right through winter, and one of them was in his 70’s.


Cold water swimming isn’t for everyone.

In fact many would say swimming in this country isn’t for them. Full stop. Ever.

My mum is one of them.

But if you want to get a sense of the excitement without even taking your clothes off, then the Sennen Beach Christmas Swim is the place to be.

At 10.30 if you wander onto Sennen Beach on Christmas Day you might wonder if you have got it all wrong, “Are you sure it isn’t on New Year’s Day dear?”

At 10.45 people start arriving from every direction. Well, every land direction.

By 10.50 there are throngs of people on the beach. Dogs are going wild picking up on the adrenalin of the crazy ones, and their friends.

Approaching 11.00 there’s a count down, and then a mad dash.

No wet suits please. Trunks, or even fancy dress, is optional. In 2012 a bunch of lads took skinny dipping to heart – brave in front of such a crowd.

Oh yes, the crowd. Over a 1,000 spectators showed up this year.

And a record 400+ swimmers too.

I missed it this year, we were in the Highlands for Christmas, but The Cornish Way was well represented with New Forge guests Chris, Ness and the boys taking the plunge.

I’m pretty sure Tammo and family who were staying in The Old Dairy made it too.

Well done you all!

The oldest swimmer this year was regular Alan Griffiths making his 31st swim at an impressive 92 years old! That makes him old enough to know better even before he started.

The youngest were apparently two six year old girls.

You now know when and where it is.

You have no excuse.

Don’t start training now. Start when the sea is at its warmest, late August probably. And then just keep going through the winter.

Whatever you do just keep breathing.


Our intrepid guests, Chris, Ness and the boys.

Our intrepid guests, Chris, Ness and the boys.


The Sennen Beach Swim 2014.

The Sennen Beach Swim 2014.


I can see myself in this one, Polly standing guard. 2011 I guess by her size.

I can see myself in this one, Polly standing guard. 2011 I guess by her size.