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Sea Sorority

[58.14611391362659, -5.254423154852776]
Mandy Haggith

The following poem (and pieces of poem-ish writing) was written using the words and phrases of project participants in meetings and interviews, some online, some in person, in response to questions about their experiences of swimming, paddling and sailing around the coast of the northwest Highland Geopark area (i.e. the north coast and west coast…

Different jobs, different ages, different backgrounds. 

We all started because of anxiety,

thoughts buzzing around and around

and around not solving anything. 

It’s like a reset to go in the water. 

Honesty comes out of our mouths. 

We have a lot of fun, 

giggling and we don’t know why. 

Swimming bonds us together.

We’re not afraid to tell each other 

when what someone’s doing

gets on your nerves or is slightly annoying

because you know them so well. 

We don’t fall out with each other at all.

Swimming tends to be noisier with other people. 

The joy of it is expressed: 

happy noises, enjoyment noises, frightened noises. 

The sea has such feminine energy.

The social element matters a lot. 

In all that seriousness in lockdown

just doing something silly together,

laughing out loud, getting that natural high, 

peacefully engaging with nature,

the camaraderie, it was a real saviour. 

We were complying with all the rules. 

We were so careful, 

and it gave us such a boost.

It’s a really positive group. 

You can talk about your problems.

We discuss a huge range of topics.

Some of us are menopausal. 

We sleep better – swimming reduces stress. 

It brings calmness.

I have one friend I swim with, 

we’re both quiet,

we’re both just there.

We laugh a lot. 

We laugh like children.

(With thanks to Ania Lintern, Bronia Adrian, Heather MacDonald, Karen Stewart, Katya Riek, Laila Inglis, Lexie MacAskill, Marianne Hutchison, Sheilah Cunningham, Tessa Bakker)