'Midwifery Mermaids' brave frrrr-eezing water in year-long charity challenge

Torbay Weekly

SIX Torbay hospital midwives (plus an extra recruit) brrrr-aved the seas off Preston beach for their first swim of a year long endurance event.

Their aim in the The 365 Sea Swim Challenge is to raise money for cancer research and improvements to the hospital’s delivery suite.

Sara-Jane Smith, Dom Heaton, Heidi Viney, Rachel Warde, Liz Smart, Becci Dawe and Amanda Kanyi will be sea swimming twice a week for a year, in all weathers, without even the luxury of a wetsuit.

Colleague Jo Hunter joined them for the Preston dip but won't be taking  part ion the challenge.

Amanda explained how the health workers, who have set up an Instagram and GoFundMe page under the name Midwifery Mermaids, came up with the idea: "A friend of ours Nick Sharpe, had taken on The 365 Challenge on his own. Becci and I had our first swim with Nick back in February this year and as the months went on, we were saying we ought to do it.

"These last six weeks, we decided we just needed to knuckle down and start the challenge. The sea is at its coldest in February so believe it or not, despite it being about eight degrees, the sea temperature is still a little bit warmer than the air temperature. So, if we start now, we’re in a better place for when it really gets cold in February.

“We’re putting half of the money we raise towards cancer research and we’ve decided to put the other half towards the delivery suite at Torbay Hospital to generally make it better for the women that we look after. We need birthing stalls and we need to get it painted and to put better lighting in.”

While Nick, who is raising money for the RNLI and Louisa Carey Ward, only has nine weeks left to go on his challenge, the Midwifery Mermaids are at the start of their journey.

But Kanyi says: "We’ve been swimming consistently. Becci and I started in February and a lot of the girls joined us in March or April. So, we’ve been swimming continuously from the beginning of the year right through to now. We were swimming at least once a week in the summer and most of us are swimming nearly every day.”

Fortunately, there is no minimum time that the swimmers have to spend in the water. They just need to prove that they’ve gone in.

Kanyi said: “We’ve got an Instagram page - Midwifery Mermaids - and we’re going to put photos up on Instagram when we’ve all done our swims. It might not be that we are all able to swim together twice a week because we’re all on a shift pattern. But we’ll certainly try and do it together at least once a week even if we have to do our second swim individually.

“We’re going to do events on the beach and we’ll put them up on our social media pages to try to get people to come down and support us even if they don’t get in the water. If anyone wants to swim but has been nervous about doing it on their own, please feel free to come down and join us. We would love that.”

To donate to the cause, you can visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/midwifery-mermaids

To keep up to date with the Midwifery Mermaids on social media, you can visit https://www.instagram.com/midwifery_mermaids/

Cakes for the inaugural swim event were kindly provided by the Greedy Bird Kitchen from Ashburton.