“No matter what’s going on in your life, whether you’re a politician or a retired plumber – we all have struggles – but cold-water swimming is like a feather duster on a chalkboard: it rubs it all out. You get out of the water and you’re alive, you survived!”
– Ross MacDowell.
In staying true to our historical roots, we have a diverse and passionate community of dedicated swimmers at the Brighton Baths Health Club. Since our inception in 1881, this has been the home base of the infamous winter swimmers, the Icebergers. This diverse group of swimmers is always welcoming of newbies – encouraging participation and enjoyment, not competition.
Although they are notoriously known for swimming in the icy bay, this social group does swim year round meeting every Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00pm and Saturdays at 8:00am.
Every Iceberger has a different methodology of how they get into the cold water – some stand under the heaters just before briskly walking down the boardwalk, some plunge into the icy waters before they have time to think about it, and others like to wade in the water while their body acclimatizes. No matter the method to their ‘madness,’ the outcome is just the same – pure bliss and liberation.
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Natural sea water swimming provides people with a sense of adventure, a feeling of accomplishment, an innumerable health benefits. The open water is never the same from one day to the next, and overcoming the elements is a big part of the challenge. Through this activity you will meet some interesting people, learn more about your own self-imposed boundaries, and improve both your mental and physical wellbeing.
You can swim as far as you want to. At first you may start with just a lap in the safety of the Brighton Baths and slowly increase this distance as you feel comfortable.
The more regularly you swim, the better your body will acclimatise and the more you will enjoy it. At least twice a week is ideal, although many of our Icebergers can't do without their daily swim!
Although you can wear a wetsuit, you are encouraged not to. Part of the experience is acclimatising to the temperature and getting the physiological and psychological benefits that come with the process. Embracing the cold is just part of the experience.
We do not encourage anyone to simply hop into cold water for an extended period of time without gradually building up your tolerance to it. It may be that you initially do what is loosely referred to as “tea-bagging” where you just quickly submerge yourself after a trip to the steam room.
Open water swimming is safe provided you are initially in good general health, learn your limitations, swim with other people, and warm up properly afterwards. After each swim you will enjoy using our very warm, eucalyptus infused steam room to restore your body's warmth. We also recommend wearing a neoprene wetsuit cap.
“It’s a way of life. If you miss it you feel like your whole day has been ruined. It certainly gets you up and running for whatever is in front of you. I believe a healthy body, a health mind – the more you exercise the more vital you become and a better lifestyle you’ll have. If you look after yourself and do plenty of exercise life becomes a whole lot easier. It’s kept me alive.”
- Keith Forbes, Brighton Baths Iceberger