2020 – The Year of The Bluetits

2020 has been an interesting year for all of us. At Bluetit HQ, it has been one to remember for more reasons than the obvious. The Bluetits has grown in a way we could not have predicted, and in between dealing with all the challenges this pandemic has thrown at us, we have been busy working to make this community one that can continue to grow and spread the joy of cold water swimming to as many people as possible.

We’ve been a part of the gradual growth of the cold water swimming movement for a while now, and this year the experience we’ve built up over the last 6 years has stood us in great stead at a time when The Bluetits has surged forward and continues to do so.

We are so grateful to those of you who have been a part of this movement in 2020. ‘Bluetit HQ’ are 4 women living on the edge of Wales who really bloomin’ love swimming. Every time you reach out with stories of how the Bluetits has been life-changing, photos of your swims, funny stories of your adventures, and so on, we do a happy dance (or cry, depending on how the mood takes us!) It’s tough being a swimmer during lockdowns and social distancing regulations, and this community has bowled us over with your positivity and enthusiasm for fun whatever it looks like!

We wanted to take a moment to share what we’ve been up to and celebrate some of the Bluetit highlights this year!

  • We have seen new flocks taking flight all across the world and now have nearly 90 worldwide! In 2020, the Bluetits’ Facebook following went from just under 2000 to over 7000! We’re absolutely thrilled that so many have discovered the joys of swimming this year.
  • On the 1st of September, The Bluetits Chill Swimmers became a social enterprise. Social enterprises are businesses that have a social or environmental purpose. This means that they reinvest any profits back into the business in order to deliver more of their social or environmental purpose. The Bluetit mission is to create a confident, capable community through cold water swimming and adventures.

With this mission in mind, we launched our new range of official merchandise, designed by Bluetit founder Sian! It reflects all that The Bluetits is about – fun, bright, and inclusive!

The Bluetit Swimsuit – launched 2020

We launched the Arctic Flappers Challenge; a fun winter swimming challenge to encourage our Bluetits to acclimatise to cold water with 20 swims over 21 weeks of winter. Over 2000 of you signed up! Again, cue many happy dances. The Arctic Flappers Facebook group is such a fun space to be a part of, and we’re loving seeing your photos and reading about your experiences.

We worked on our values this year; Fun, Trust, and Inclusivity. We also formed our strapline – Challenging Our Limits, Together. We launched the offer of Swim Walk Adventures, where Bluetits can challenge their limits in a supportive environment while having loads of fun! The first of these will run in 2021.

The profits we have made are already being put to good use. This year we began training local swim walk leaders in Pembrokeshire, creating employment in the community. We have plans to offer training across our groups in the future!

We have also now launched our training for our volunteer admins, meaning that they will start 2021 more supported than ever. We cannot thank them enough for their positivity, patience, and support this year.

Alongside all this we maintain our focus for fun and improving physical and mental health by challenging our limits, together!

Here’s to 2021, let the ripples continue!

Bluetit HQ – Sian, Gail, Sam & Sarah x


Outdoor Swimmer Magazine 2019


Ice Ice Baby….. Feb 1st 2019

Being two experienced sub 5 degree water swimmers, Tracey and I thought nothing of popping into 2.8 degree water for a dip yesterday. Tracey had been in Rosebush to do some distance training for her upcoming ice mile attempt and I was there to shout abuse at her. Her training pond was frozen over so as we decided to check out the quarry. I had my cameras with me and Jemeima to operate one so I almost broke into a trot with my crutch in hand when it started to snow heavily and we thought there might be a bit of ice to break through up there…. oh the filming opportunity!

Anyhow, long story short, Western Tel got in touch today, reporter fancies a swim with us, could they use the footage? Of course, anyone who knows me knows I love a bit of exposure, (cheeky) and love introducing new people into our Bluetit clan.

So, below is the link to the online piece and of course all the comments! Most of the ‘WOW’ and ‘MAD WOMEN’ we used to but the negatives added an interesting perspective. Maybe when I spoke to the reporter I (the one in the stripy swimsuit) should have emphasised the ice mile challenge. I am and ice miler and to get this accolade (which is to pop on a swimsuit and complete of a 1 mile swim in open water that is 5 degrees or below) I trained for three years by swimming in sub 5 degree water a swimsuit, hat and goggles. I had to swim qualifiers that were approved by the International Ice Swimming Association and get a full medical before attempting the challenge. Tracey (the one in the red swimsuit) is currently training to swim the English Channel and attempt her first ice mile, so she too has trained for a long time to get to the point where she is well on her way to being ready to achieve both goals. Sometimes, when we find ice and snow for example, we take break from heads down cold water distance swimming, hang our knickers from a tree let it all hang loose mother goose! We are not to be confused with the people who chuck themselves from a great height into what the general public consider icy water in the summer months tanked up on a few beverages…although I have tried that one too (the tanked up bit not the great height), see ‘daft twat’ sentence below.

Many years ago someone called me irresponsible for sleeping on a beach with my children, something we did quite often and always with military like organisation… the organising was part of the adventure. It was then I realised that there can be a fine line between what we humans consider adventurous and what we consider irresponsible. I am capable of being both. I’ve learnt my most valuable survival lessons being the latter and my subsequent adventures were better planned as a result of the times I was a daft twat. To those who do push boundaries no explanation is necessary, to those who don’t, no amount of explaining will ever suffice.

Daily Mail Online next maybe? I did badger one of their reporters about a Bluetit article years ago … I wouldn’t handle the negative comments was the reaction to that shameless request for national accolade.

Maybe they were right. Most of the time I wallow In the wonderful Bluetit filled world of the courageous, generous and bold. The conversation and post swim tea is often fruity, the cake homemade and the hot chocolate laced with feck knows what to warm your cockles on the walk home. Negative they are not, and by facing fears about the cold and open water and body issues and peer pressure and the dumb things armchair troopers might say to them about irresponsibility, heart attacks and hypothermia they are some of the bravest people I have the privilege of knowing.


Introducing a precise open water swimming temperature scale – LoneSwimmer

The Lone Swimmer website is an interesting place to visit if you are a swimmer. With the water temperatures dropping nicely now and some Bluetits venturing into very cold puddles I thought the attached might be interesting and amusing….

Introducing a precise open water swimming temperature scale – LoneSwimmer

— Read on


The Ice Mile

Not for everyone this challenge but then neither is live modelling a swimsuit in a shop window or plunging into any of body of water even once without a wetsuit … challenges come in many shapes and forms and what one persons deems a major challenge can be considered a walk in the park for someone else. Why we choose to do what we do when we do always fascinates me but In my experience once a challenge takes your fancy it can be a bugger to get it out of your head. So the season for attempting ice miles is upon us and if you take an interest in this kind of thing the air is full of who’s done what where and in what temperature. Trying to stick to your training guns and remember you are unique and cannot compare yourself to anyone else is tough. The sensible you knows all of this but the beast within is impatient and eager to get the first ice mile done and that red jacket on…. everyone else is managing it so why not me?! It’s tough, but an ice mile attempt is not to be taken lightly. The author of the attached is a seasoned ice miler and I like the way she has written the piece… honest and no drama, it is what it is, challenging but doable.

Bluetit Tracey did her 1km qualifier today in 4.4 degree water with Jan as ‘recovery angel’…. the ice mile cometh