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‘Learning a new skill isn’t easy and it’s a humbling experience but along with the tide, my confidence rises’

Can lessons turn a fair-weather dipper into an all-weather open-water swimmer? Our writer takes the plunge..

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Nadia El Ferdaoussi. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia with Coach Mick of @swimwellswimfierce. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia with Coach Mick of @swimwellswimfierce. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Coach Mick gives Nadia and the group technique tips. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Coach Mick gives Nadia and the group technique tips. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi with Coach Mick O'Kane. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi with Coach Mick O'Kane. Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. @swimwellswimfiercewith Coach Mick Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. @swimwellswimfiercewith Coach Mick Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. @swimwellswimfiercewith Coach Mick Picture: Kyle Tunney

Nadia El Ferdaoussi. @swimwellswimfiercewith Coach Mick Picture: Kyle Tunney

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Nadia El Ferdaoussi. Picture: Kyle Tunney

It’s a sunny spring Saturday afternoon when I rock up at Coliemore Harbour for my first open-water sea-swimming lesson. The wind is whipping at the waves beyond the thick stone walls in Dalkey Sound, but the water is tranquil in the sheltered harbour down the slipway. The air temperature is around 12C, but the water is still a nippy nine-ish degrees, and I’m nervous.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been “going for sea swims” fairly regularly, right throughout the winter. In reality, though, there’s been no swimming. I suppose it just sounds better than a dip, which is actually what I’d been doing all that time. You could definitely lump me in with the all-the-gear-no-idea crowd, with my neoprene booties and shiny silver changing robe, spending more time chatting and going for coffee afterwards than actually in the sea. Despite the fact that I would go for a dip in the depths of January, I was still a fair-weather dipper, arriving only on clear days and never staying in the water longer than a few minutes.


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