It’s four years ago and Nicky Dixon is standing on a chilly beach near her home in Abergele, Conwy, bracing herself to enter the icy water.
She’s about to head into the waves for her first ever cold-water swim, hoping the cold water will ease the painful migraines blighting her life and becoming more frequent.
Since then, the family support worker for Barnardo’s and mindfulness teacher, has become hooked.
Nicky soon discovered cold-water swimming not only reduced the number of migraines she was having, but her friends wanted to join her in the sea too making it a real social event.
Numbers boomed by the time of the pandemic in 2020, and they started swimming in groups of six due to Covid restrictions. Post pandemic, they all came together, and the 30- strong Wild Water Babes of North Wales was born, a sea of capped heads often seen bobbing up and down on the horizon.
This weekend, under the moonlight, 17 women in the group will be braving the elements for a dip with a difference.
Ditching their wetsuits for one night only, they will be swimming totally starkers, and they will be doing it for Tenovus Cancer Care.
They hope to raise more than £2,000 in tribute to women who were part of their group and have now sadly passed away.
Nicky explained: “We’ve lost a couple of members of our group to breast cancer, and we’ve got a couple of people in the group who’ve currently have cancer, and others who have lost friends and family to cancer. I personally lost a close friend 2 years ago.
This will be a very emotional moment, as well as a challenge. It’s a reminder that we’re here, we’re alive, and we can do it.
If our friends can go through what they went through with cancer, then we can be naked, get out our boobs in the breeze, in the cold water for a few minutes to raise money for cancer care.”
The group have several thousand members on Facebook with members swimming several times a week.
As well as raising vital funds, Nicky, who is also a mindfulness teacher, also wants to raise awareness of the benefits of cold-water swimming for general wellbeing.
“We’re in this wonderful setting, in nature, which we know is great for our wellbeing. There’s something magical about swimming under the moonlight, but there’s another side too, and that’s the science.
In the cold water your heart rate goes down, and that’s a good thing. for pain relief. I teach breath work, as well as mindfulness, and I use it with the members in the sea.
When you get out of the water, you have this after glow. The rush of blood gives you a buzz. On top of that, you’ve got the social element and the supportive side of the group. It’s a total reset.”
The women will swim in secret location in the sea. If the conditions are too rough, there’s a back-up plan to swim in a local lake.
To prove the women have completed their challenge, trusted members of the group will be taking tasteful pictures of the women in the water which will be published post event.
Tenovus Cancer Care wishes all the women the best of luck in their challenge. Thank you Wild Water Babes!
If would like to sponsor the event please donate here