Quay Interview: Hayley Wetherall of QUAY Magazine Interviews Chris Thomas of The 365 Sea Swim Challenge

Hayley: Hi Chris! Can you tell me a bit about The 365 Sea Swim Challenge?

Chris: The 365 Sea Swim Challenge is a Community Interest Company based in Brixham, Devon. We host sea swimming and wild swimming events to raise funds, provide peer support, promote mental and physical wellbeing, foster community engagement, and highlight local conservation and environmental issues. 

It all started when me and my Co-founder Rob Hunt started a personal sea swim to raise funds for Shoalstone Seawater Pool, and for The Seal Project. Two local charities that are close to my heart.

Hayley: Can you tell us a bit more about these charities?

Chris: Shoalstone Seawater Pool is an art deco open-air pool on the Brixham shoreline. It is run by a volunteer committee and is totally self-funded. The Seal Project was also formed in Brixham, and it’s a conservation-based charity that studies and manages the welfare of our local grey seal population. 

Alongside these original causes, we now also lead the Crabline Recycling Scheme. As part of this, we have installed seven recycling stations in Brixham and Stoke Gabriel where people can put their unwanted crabbing equipment. 

We also promote the use of non-plastic alternatives, providing our handmade Eco Crablines that are made from 100% biodegradable materials. 

Hayley: Wild swimming has seen a surge in popularity since the first lockdown. What are the health benefits of taking part?

Chris: Cold water swimming has some profound effects on people’s mental and physical wellbeing. The connection with nature and wild spaces, the encounters with wildlife, and the experience of swimming in all weathers really helps to reset the mind and focus the soul. 

Hayley: How has The 365 Sea Swim Challenge changed over time?

Chris: Starting from just Rob and myself on our little crusade, we now have a website, clothing line, members throughout the UK, and even some in America! 

We have also become an associate member of the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark, created a recycling scheme that has engaged the wider community beyond just the sea swimmers, and have given talks at Plymouth University and local primary schools. 

Hayley: What has been the most challenging aspect of your work?

Chris: Having the time to do everything! We have lots of great ideas, but unfortunately we’re unable to do them all at once. Looking forward, I think there will be a time when we bring in more people to help with the expansion of the company. 

Hayley: And what has been the most rewarding part?

Chris: Seeing other people benefit from sea swimming and wild swimming – it’s awesome when they experience the exhilaration for the first time! 

Hayley: What plans do you have for the future?

Chris: We plan to continue with the 365 Sea Swim Challenges and events, while also developing our conservation and environmental projects that benefit our community and the wider world as a whole. 

Hayley: If people want to become a part of The 365 Sea Swim Challenge, how can they learn more?

Chris: The best place to get more information is on our website, which is  www.365seaswimchallenge.com, and you can also check out our social media profiles. We have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

Hayley: Great! Thanks for speaking with me, Chris.

Chris Thomas of The 365 Sea Swim Challenge was interviewed by Hayley Wetherall of QUAY Magazine

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