atest press release from Cllr Jodie Neary, issued on Monday, May 31st 2021…
Social Democrats Cllr Jodie Neary has been engaging with sea swimmers in Greystones, Kilcoole and other who swim in the area to see what’s needed to harness the mental and physical health and social benefits of sea swimming.
Cllr Neary carried out a sea swimming survey earlier this month which gathered over 500 responses.
Cllr Neary says, “After a glorious weekend of sun you can see just how well loved the coast is in Greystones, and the all the families that come out to enjoy places like The Cove and the South Beach. It’s a free and accessible outdoor activity that brings so many benefits particularly for mental and physical health and is a fantastic social outlet for people.
“Sea swimming as an outdoor activity has experienced a dramatic increase in popularity during the COVID pandemic. In the context of Greystones, sea swimming has experienced a continued surge during COVID 19 even throughout the winter months and it’s been wonderful to hear from sea swimmers themselves how this has benefitted them throughout this very difficult year.
“I believe Wicklow County Council should look towards harnessing the benefits of sea swimming, to engage with sea swimmers to see what they need to keep those benefits coming. I conducted a Greystones Sea Swimming survey and received over 500 responses, a phenomenal number which reflects the popularity of the activity. The results reveal some interesting points including:
· The Cove is the most popular spot with 72% say they regularly swim in The Cove, 60% at South Beach and 20% at North Beach;
· Over 10% of people living outside the area came to Greystones to sea swim
· 60% are all year swimmers, while a quarter begin at springtime, swimming over the summer
· 27% started swimming during Covid, while 14% have only been swimming for 1-2 years
· Over half of respondents swim a couple times a week, 18% every day and 12% once a month
· 86% said they experience overall mental health benefits, 84% said it improved their mood, 62% said it brought physical benefits while 64% said there were social benefits
“In terms of facilities, a lifeguard at The Cove, outdoor changing shelter, public toilets and fixing of railings were identified as priorities for sea swimmers. The survey has helped me to make a case to Wicklow County Council for a renewed focus on facilities. Alongside sea swimming facilities I sent a proposal asking that the Council consider the following when funding is available:
· Increased promotion of water safety and facilitating more sea swimming instructors/classes
· Greater access for people with limited mobility and none – sea swimming is great for rehabilitation, but access is often an issue for people.
· A place for people to congregate safely to harness the social benefits of sea swimming.
· A focus on the seascape as part of any public realm plans.
· Look at funding opportunities including the Blueway proposal to develop facilities.
“I have been told that there isn’t sufficient funding available from the Government’s Outdoor Recreations Infrastructure Scheme this year to finance infrastructure, however I am in talks with a potential donor to see what can be done in the meantime.
“In the past few weeks I have been able to secure more bins and more public toilets for Greystones and Kilcoole which will surely benefit beach users but the recent weekend has seen continued dumping of rubbish beside existing bins. It’s a problem I think will need serious consideration as part of the inclusion of more outdoor facilities for sea swimmers.
“All of this affects the experience of the beach user and sea swimmers in the area and it is something I will be focusing on a lot in my Council work,” concludes Cllr Neary.
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