We caught up with Anna from the Wild and Scilly Mermaids, to find out a bit more about their Scilly Isle based adventure swimming company and how they are going from strength-to-strength, expanding their offering and helping to protect their oceans at the same time.
Hi Anna. First things first, we love the name of your company, how did you come up with the Wild and Scilly Mermaids and how long have you been running?
We’ve been swimming together on Scilly throughout the seasons for over 5 years and we were keen to document our adventures, so set up an Instagram account. It became popular and people would contact us wanting to swim, so in Autumn of 2021 we decided to offer adventure swim trips with food. The name Wild and Scilly Mermaids combines the fact we like adventure, having fun and had earned the nickname ‘mermaids’ from spending so much time in the water!
Can you run us through a typical season? What are the key dates in the diary?
We offer scheduled trips when the Scillonian sails to the islands between April and October. Outside of these dates, we can do trips by request. This summer, we have two sessions available: ’Swim hike adventure’ which involves a coastal swim of around 2.5km and a hike of approximately 3km either to or from base, utilising the RuckRaft to tow belongings. Afterwards we enjoy a picnic lunch with hot drinks. For those new to open water swimming, we have a ’swim experience’ which is located in a sheltered bay and takes in a guided out-and-back swim of around 800m, finishing with hot drinks and cakes.
Not all of us are as lucky to have quite as spectacular coastline as you on the Scilly Isles, but what advice would you have for anyone wanting to get into some open water swimming?
We would advise anyone who is keen to start open water swimming to use a wetsuit as it offers both warmth and buoyancy. To help keep out the cold, 2 swims hats and earplugs plus neoprene socks are beneficial. Begin by finding a sheltered location, check weather and tides if coastal, and consider asking local swim groups where is safe to swim. We recommend using a tow float for both visibility and safety – should you need to stop and take a rest. It is good practice to swim with other people and to tell someone where you will be. Finally, take hot drinks, lots of layers of clothing and a hat to change into, so you can relax and enjoy that post-swim high.
And, how do you use your Red Rescue boards alongside your swims? Are there any particular features that help you run your sessions or that drew you to the Red Rescue boards in the first place?
We use the Red Rescue board to escort all our guided swims and decided on this approach over kayak support as it means we can be in the water with the swimmers, whilst also having good vantage for keeping watch. Should anyone get into difficulty, we can effectively recover them onto the board and speed them to the shore.
The fact that the Red Rescue board is inflatable and light means that we can pack it down and transport it easily to our various swim location across the islands.
Being so physically involved in your marine environment, is there anything that you do to help protect it for our future generations?
Living so close to the sea, we are privileged to enjoy it and see it change throughout the seasons. We feel that if you use something, you must help to look after it, and alongside donating 5% of tickets sold to the Marine Conservation Society, we regularly undertake beach cleans, and ensure that all the packaging used in our picnic lunches is sustainable and recyclable.
So, what’s next for the Mermaids? Any big plans for 2023?
We have just purchased an additional Red Rescue board to support our swims, and this season we look forward to launching our ’swim hike adventure’ trips alongside the popular ’swim experience’ sessions. We also offer bespoke ’swim challenges’ including circumnavigation and inter-island trips, for which the Red Rescue board is ideal, enabling us to stow our safety equipment and keep it close at hand.
And finally, how can people follow you or get in touch to join in on your swims?
If you would like to see the photos from our swim adventures, please check out our Instagram and Facebook pages @wildandscillymermaids. We also have a website from which you can find out more and also book to join our swim trips.
Thanks Anna, have an epic summer and hopefully we will see you out there sometime soon.
If you have your own Adventure Swim company and think that a Red Rescue Inflatable Rescue board will be perfect for your open-water swim safety cover, then get in touch today to get a quote.