New Isle of Wight swimming experience provider to support people with disabilities access the sea and beaches

Swim the Wight, a community interest company, operates under the strapline: “Improving lives with vitamin sea.” It is a new social enterprise offering swimming experiences on the Isle of Wight, such as their three-day, six-swim trip. Profits will go to support those with mental and physical disabilities, health conditions or other disadvantages, to get into the sea and access the beaches around the island.

Created by Victoria Thorneton-Field and Sandy Ciccognani, Swim the Wight is kicking off with a fundraiser: the Swim the Wight Chilly Dipping. This will also support Mountbatten Isle of Wight, an end-of-life care charity. Throughout March, they are looking for fundraisers prepared to immerse themselves in the sea or take a cold bath or shower, either once or on a regular basis.

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Six Swim Experience

Once travel is allowed again, swimmers may be tempted by Swim the Wight’s “Six Swim Experience”, a three-day swimming trip for those wanting to explore the island. Guests visit different beaches, swim and relax together, and take in the natural beauty of some of the most picturesque parts of the Isle of Wight’s coastline. Participants will need to be competent swimmers but not Olympians.

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Volunteers needed

In addition to raising money through fundraisers and profits from swimming trips, Swim the Wight are looking for volunteers. Co-founder Victoria Thorneton-Field says, “supporting those with disabilities, health conditions and other disadvantages to get into the sea, is not something we can do on our own, so we welcome support in any form you can give. Whether you can offer specialist skills, financial backing or would like to discuss any ideas with us, please get in touch.”

Their website has information on the types of equipment needed, which includes matting and beach wheelchairs, wetsuits, swimming gloves and boots. They are looking for guidance from people who would like to access beaches and the sea what they need to be able to do so.

“Sandy and I have been sea swimming, all year round, for a number of years on the island and Swim The Wight seemed to be a natural progression to encourage more people to enjoy the benefits of ‘blue health’,” says Victoria. “As an oceanographer, I am passionate about the sea and marine environment I am also an Open Water Swimming Coach and an STA (Swimming Teachers’ Association) Brand Ambassador. Our hope is to help and encourage those who may find the beach and sea a daunting place but who could benefit the most, with a little help and encouragement.”

If you have any questions or would like to know more about how to help people take advantage of blue health, please email

Sea swimming warning

Victoria and Sandy are keen to remind people that March is not the ideal time of year to start open water swimming. They’d therefore prefer people choosing to immerse themselves in the sea as part of their fundraiser to make sure they already have some cold water experience and encourage others to take a cold dip in the relative comfort of their homes.

“Please make sure you know what you are doing and don’t put yourself or anyone else in danger. We would encourage those who want to start sea swimming, to wait a few more weeks and then get in touch with an experienced coach or swimming group. There is a fantastic, supportive community of sea swimmers on the Isle of Wight, so you don’t need to do it alone. As soon as guidelines allow, we will be promoting group swims across the Island,” says Sandy.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.