Meet Emma and Sheena. Passionate about wild swimming, good food and getting back to nature. And your hosts for our Wild Swim Weekend at The Forge.
Sheena is the owner and co-founder of The Forge and as they embark on their fourth season, they are keen to start creating more immersive experiences (pun very much intended!) to help their glamping guests get more out of a stay in North Wales. Sheena started wild swimming properly only a couple of years ago, although grew up dipping in and out of the sea near where she grew up in Conwy. Since the pandemic she has been swimming 3-4 times a week and she says, “It's hard to fully articulate how much wild swimming has changed my life. My whole family know when it's a 'swim day'. I feel lighter, I shout less, I'm relaxed, engaged, and generally a lot nicer to be around!"
Emma has been swimming outdoors all her life although it is only in the last 18 months or so since wild swimming has massively increased in popularity that she has come to see it as ‘wild swimming’. As a qualified open water swim instructor, Emma loves nothing more than helping others to discover the ‘buzz’ of wild swimming and build their confidence in the water. She also just happens to run her own catering company which focuses on local, sustainable ingredients, jam packed full of flavour.
They co-designed the Wild Swim Weekends to blend a mixture of personal challenge, deep relaxation and the opportunity to reconnect back with nature. The weekends are very much not a ‘boot camp’ and there is no pressure or expectation to dive straight in and swim for hours. The whole experience is designed around guests finding their own levels of comfort and building their confidence to do whatever they feel is right for them.
Emma is a big believer in keeping things simple. You don’t need oodles of special, expensive kit and clobber. Just a swimsuit and maybe something to protect your feet getting in and of the water – an old pair of trainers will do the trick! A woolly hat can be a useful addition too, even in June in Wales you can feel chilly after you get out of the water. If you are interested in getting a wetsuit to swim for longer distances, then Emma recommends hiring one for a few weeks before you commit to buying one to see how they work for you.
One of the beauties of living in North Wales is the variety of different swimming locations available to try. Emma lives near the coast in Criccieth and Sheena very close to the River Dee in Denbighshire. Both agree that finding the swim spot, often by looking for the blue spot on the Ordnance Survey map, is part of the fun! But even in their regular swim haunts, no two swims are ever the same. The changing of the seasons, the different weather conditions, the wildlife that join you – all these things make every single wild swim unique. And the fact that you are totally immersed in the moment with nothing to disturb you (phones, kids, dogs….. ok, well sometimes dogs) means that that moment becomes even more special.