By Judy Stephan
If you look at the Georgia Strait from Rocky Point in North Nanaimo, you might see them bobbing in the waves… three shapes which could be mistaken for marine animals. Surely it can’t be people as the wind is howling and the rain is beating down. But yes… There are 3 women in Nanaimo, connected by friendship and sheer determination, who swim off Rocky Point every day.
These 3 bathing beauties used to swim less frequently… perhaps only on special occasions like New Year or birthdays. After plunging into the icy waters on January 1st this year, they questioned why they didn’t swim more often, given how energized and invigorated they felt after their short and infrequent ocean dips. They were inspired by a group of women from Victoria who enjoy daily dips in the waters off Vancouver Island. They thought if these intrepid ladies could do it, so could they. Now every day is an occasion to immerse themselves in this watery ritual. They call themselves the Rocky Point Swimmers – or jokingly, The Menopausal Mermaids, as the cold ocean waters do marvels for hot flashes!
After reading the tides, they meet on a rocky beach no matter the weather, rain or shine, heatwave or cold spell, howling winds, wind, sleet or snow. If it’s the middle of winter, when the water and wind is frigid, they wear toques, as you can see in the photographs. Sometimes they are out there with seals and sea otters; sometimes the Strait is like a mirror, other times there are choppy waves and swells. The swims lift their spirits as they seize the moment and take the opportunity to reboot and reset. As friends, it has become more than just a challenge or daily ritual: it is a time to talk, laugh and share good – and sometimes not so good – news. As the pandemic wore on, and social distancing was encouraged, they found their daily dips a great way to stay connected with each other and forget about everything that was going on in the world.
I am fortunate to know these three lovely ladies… So full of life and determination. They say they are so thankful to live here on Vancouver Island and look forward to many more swims!