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Sea Swimming by Chris Shaw

I am Chris Shaw, a 53 year old ultra marathon runner and sea swimmer, living in Wallasey, who helps facilitate a group of friends to swim in the sea, all year round. I have worked in Mental Health and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) for over 20 years and know the huge benefits of sociable, outdoor exercise – where you choose to take responsibility for yourself and your your choices!

Our group of sea swimmers now has well over 20 regular attendees, with 5-17 of them turning up to each swim. We swim all along the north Wirral Coast but our most frequent swims are along the New Brighton Coastline and Mother Redcaps Beach in Egremont.

Over the last 12 months we have done approximately 300 sea swims; in all seasons and all weathers!

Open sea swimming can be very dangerous and the Mersey coast can be extremely dangerous; documented as having the 4th biggest tides on the whole planet my 40 years of experience of the currents, channels, tides and sandbanks helps with swim safety. With our combined growing knowledge base we have been able to craft several routes which are swimmable at most states of the tide.

One of my favourite swims is at day break; the beauty is startling – dawn appearing over Liverpool, but, my very favourite is Sunset, the western dipping-sun horizon framed by the Welsh mountains and Mersey Bay windmills –  then looking East, the  Lancashire Pennines and Liverpool city including Anfield and Goodison Stadia.

We have even had the opportunity to swim with wildlife; quite often with Atlantic Grey Seals and once, right in the Mersey, we were passed by a couple of Porpoises!

I moved to New Brighton in 1970 when the beaches and the Mersey were filthy, with horrendous effluent and industrial waste smeared and littered on the beach and in the water. I’m glad I wasn’t a sea swimmer back then as I don’t think it would have been safe to be in the water for very long. Over the last decade I have built up to doing 10 mile sea swims and then a 12 miler from New Brighton to Hilbre Island, finishing at West Kirby. On my 50th birthday I swam 22.7 miles from New Brighton to Wales and then back, my biggest swim so far!

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Our local beaches are really clean now, this is down to the work of regional agencies plus local groups like the New Brighteners who constantly clean the coast and also lobby locally to stop the unnecessary use of single use plastics by businesses and the local population. One beach at Wallasey has just been awarded the internationally coveted Blue Flag status- an unthinkable transformation based on how it was a just a decade or two ago!

Several of our swimmers take part in the New Brighteners beach clean events; whenever we are out swimming and running on beaches and sandbanks, we do our best to collect plastic bottles and bin them. Our pet dog Seth is an expert plastic bottle collector now too!

New Brighton has a thriving Coastal Community that the sea swimmers are a part of; we all see the beauty of the North Wirral Coast and feel proud of our local area. We support other community events and they support us.

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One of our swimmers, Sam Rowen from Community Soul set up 2 colossal sunset swim events this year encouraging lots of local residents to swim in the sea with other people in their community. Over 150 swimmers joined us in July and almost 300 swimmers came in September! Check out the video from the event here: https://youtu.be/LKjzy00vPIo

If you are interested in trying out sea swimming you can join us at our Saturday morning training get together at New Brighton Lake. New swimmers will have to sign a Council disclaimer to swim in the lake but this is a great session where you can meet a wide spread of swimmers, from people who swim long distances in the winter, and are friendly and knowledgeable experts, right through to those who just want a quick sea swim and enjoy the efficacious health benefits of winter dips in very cold water!

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Take part in a #2minutebeachclean

LOVEmyBEACH is proud to announce the arrival of 12 two minute beach clean boards to the North West. The boards are a tool which make it easier for everyone to do their bit to look after the beach. The stations are A-boards with a holder for litter pickers and a slot for used plastic bags.

Aside from having a dirty beach with items on it that are a risk to our health there are lots of very good reasons why we need your help to remove rubbish from the marine environment.

A two minute beach clean might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things but it is important. Every piece of plastic that you remove from the marine environment is no longer a danger to the animals that still live there. They won’t break down into micro plastics, strangle seabirds or mammals or end up being ingested.

A two minute beach clean gets you outside; helps to keep you healthy and fit and feeling good. Children love to help clean the beach and learn more about protecting marine wildlife.

You can find #2minutebeachclean boards at:

  • Rossall Point Tower
  • Fleetwood Beach Kiosk
  • Water Side Cafe, St Annes
  • Cafe Cove, Cleveleys
  • National Trust, Formby
  • Clock Tower Cafe, Morecambe
  • RNLI building, Blackpool
  • Blackpool South

More locations coming soon, watch this space!

Please share a photo of your beach clean using the hashtags #2minutebeachclean and #lovemybeach

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Illuminations Winner

Earlier this year the LOVEmyBEACH campaign teamed up with Blackpool Council and Blackpool Illuminations curator Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen to launch an illuminations competition with primary schools across the North West. The competition required children to design an illumination which would encourage local people and visitors to help keep the beaches clean.

After receiving over 50 fantastic designs from a selection of schools, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen worked through a short list and picked a winner. At the Blackpool Illuminations launch event on the 3rd August, he announced Katie Critchley, aged 9, from St Gregory’s Primary School in Chorley as the winner.

Attending the launch event with her mum, dad, brother and teachers, Katie was ecstatic to win the award and meet the TV star.

Miss McCluskey, Katie’s teacher added, “We are extremely proud that Katie has won this competition and gets to have her design made into a real illumination. She has worked very hard in school over the last year, has grown massively in confidence and winning this award is testament to that. She was very receptive of the messages in the LOVEmyBEACH and like others in the class are becoming the next generation of litter heroes and artists who care about global issues affecting not only their local area but their global community too.”

The winning design has since been transformed into a Blackpool Illumination and is on display along the Cliffs section before the large tableaux at the north end of the display from 1st September to 5th November 2017.

Chair of Turning Tides and Blackpool Chief Executive, Neil Jack, said: “This competition is a great way to inform children, and their families, that they too can contribute to keeping our seas clean. By making small changes like only ever flushing pee, poo and paper down the toilet and always taking litter away at the beach our coast will continue to improve.

“Katie’s winning design highlights an important message to the millions of Illuminations visitors who can take actions to keep the North West coast one of the most loved areas in the country.”

Well done Katie!

You can view Katie’s winning design and the other entries here.

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