Ella Foote enjoys the vibe at Bude Sea Pool
The overriding feeling I have about my swim with the Bude Open Water Swimmers, is that I didn’t want to leave the water and go home. I was welcomed before I even got down the steps to Bude Sea Pool, swimmer Katherine Short giving a hug and welcoming words, everyone else waving in a state of undress.
The last time I was in Bude I was about 12 on a summer holiday in Cornwall with my grandparents and the thing I remember most was being stung by a jellyfish. The coastline here is famous for its wide open beaches and they are brilliant for surf rather than swimming. Bude Sea Pool, which is run by local charity, Friends of Bude Sea Pool, is a tidal pool that was built in the 1930s for safe swimming. Access to the pool is unrestricted, free and perfect for year-round swimming.
The pool is a glorious 91m long by 45m wide, meaning you can get a great long swim in, even if the surf is high and rough in the distance. Tide is a factor, as the pool disappears at high tide, but as soon as it heads back out the beauty is revealed with a fresh dose of saltwater joy.
Community is essential at this swimming spot. In 2010 all public funding for the sea pool was withdrawn. The charity campaigned to keep the pool open and then took over its management in 2012. It relies on donations and support from visitors and the local community, so it is wonderful to swim with people passionate about keeping facilities like this running. There was a time when a tidal pool freaked me out a little – what creatures had been captured in the pool after the sea had left? But this day, that was far from my mind. The sounds of the seaside, the silhouettes on the sea cliff looking over at us swimming, the smell and saltiness of it all, I could have swum lengths all day.
To support and donate to Bude Sea Pool visit: www.budeseapool.org
BOWS Club Facts
Fave after swim snack Mike’s hot curried vol-au-vents, Nicky’s lemon drizzle cake and Sharky’s chilli are all well-established favourites.
Join them We advise swimmers to check the BOWS Facebook page as members will post when they’re swimming. Our special one-off events are advertised on the BOWS Facebook page well in advance and everyone is welcome to come along to those, the more the merrier!
Find them on Facebook: BOWS (Bude Open Water Swimmers)
Quick Q&A with Founding Members Billy and Eve
How did you get into outdoor swimming?
Billy: Having retired to Bude six years ago, I decided to enter the Dart 10k swim and spent months training for the event in Bude Sea Pool. By the time I completed the swim I was hooked and have not looked back.
Eve: I was heading towards my 60th birthday and I decided it was time I learned how to swim! After four lessons in the local indoor pool I could just about propel my way around the water. Billy persuaded me to have a dip in Bude Sea Pool, my ambition was to swim a width, I managed to swim two lengths. I was instantly hooked.
What inspired the group to start?
Billy & Eve: Bude Sea Pool is the only consistently safe place on the North Cornish Coast for swimming throughout the winter, with facilities that are unequalled. It was mainly unused in the winter apart from a handful of hardcore swimmers. Our goal was to promote this fantastic winter swimming resource, ensure nobody swam alone and that it remains a free swimming experience for all. Word of these informal swim gatherings soon got round and they morphed into an ‘any excuse for a party’ social get together.
Have you had any problems with authorities or people preventing you from swimming?
Billy & Eve: Luckily no. We work closely with the committee and trustees of Friends of Bude Sea Pool, who allow us use of the sea pool hub and changing facilities throughout the winter. We in turn encourage people to make a small donation to the sea pool.
What are the Group ambitions for the next year?
Billy & Eve: To continue building on the BOWS reputation for demonstrating that outdoor swimming is not only good for your physical wellbeing but is terrific fun too, no matter what level of swimmer you are. In addition to our regular visiting groups, we hope to attract even more swimming groups from far flung locations to enjoy a day out here – all we ask is that they bring cake and we will provide everything else!