On October 27 Salford Watersports Centre held its Halloween Night Swim event, an annual event which involves its takers braving the cold water of the Salford Quays.
Before they braved the cold October waters of the Quays, I managed to have a chat with friends Allison Goodhall and Anita Smith. Both they and the rest of their group are regular cold water swimmers, all meeting via an outdoor fitness group.
Anita, who is currently a practising nurse, shared all the benefits that come with cold water swimming, including how regular cold water swimming can turn white fat in the body to brown fat, which will build up better endurance to the cold.
“Brown fat insulates you better, so that’s why animals that hibernate have more brown fat,” Anita explained.
“Once you come open-water swimming, once you’ve been in the cold, the benefits continue for the next few hours. Like you feel that the endorphins get released, so you feel great for the rest of the day.”
Allison also spoke on the benefits, stating that cold water swimming has “lots of benefits for menopausal women. It promotes well-being, mental health.”
Despite these benefits, there are many other reasons that cold water swimming has been gaining popularity.
Anita expressed: “It’s a community, so there’s a whole group of people that enjoy cold water swimming. And it’s addictive, isn’t it?”
Allison views the aquatic activity as a social opportunity for her to be together with friends during Halloween.
“There’s a group of us that go together, so it’s a good laugh,” she added.
“So being together with your friends doing something like-minded, it’s fun, isn’t it?”
Before the group started their swim, Allison shared one final detail which was key to the success of the cold water.
“We like cake and we have lots of cake after and a warm drink.”
As she was coming out of the water, I managed to catch Nadia Wilkinson, another regular cold water swimmer. Nadia commented: “It was really refreshing, actually. It’s nice because the moon’s out and the lights are twinkling.”
Nadia decided to come to the event ”because it’s Halloween coming up and it’s something different.
“But the cold water, it’s just good fun. You feel nice when you get out.”
Finally, I spoke to Sam Jones, who has been working at the Salford Watersports Centre for just over two years as a facility officer and booking coordinator. This Halloween swim is the third she has helped organise.
She stated that there has been a rise in the popularity of cold water swimming since post-Covid.
Sam added: “When everyone got into all of the positive mental health sort of work that everyone wanted to do, because obviously being in lockdown, cold water swim has a good effect on your mental state and your overall well-being anyway.”
“Doing events like this, it creates a good community for people. So we have a lot of people that don’t normally come to the centre or not sure where it is and stuff like that. So once we do these events, it brings a lot of people in and then that also builds that community spirit and sort of feeling.”