Lorraine Candy’s earliest memories are of the sea – specifically the beaches of Bude and Perranporth in Cornwall, which she visited on summer holidays with her family as a child. ‘We lived on the moors in Liskeard in the centre of Cornwall,’ she says, ‘so the sea was our escape.’
Those ‘escapes’ instilled a life-long passion. No matter how landlocked her life became (she lives and works in London), how stellar her career (pretty damn stellar: award-winning journalist, former editor-in-chief of titles including Elle and The Sunday Times Style, chart-topping podcaster and soon-to-be author – her non-fiction debut publishes in June), the pull of the ocean is always there.
‘I have to spend the majority of the summer in the sea,’ she says. ‘I am drawn to it wherever we are.’ Cornwall, in particular, remains close to her heart. ‘My four children have grown up with Cornwall as the main place we go on holiday.’ They have, she says, ‘never known a time without it.’ She even got married near the beach: ‘in the Church in the sand dunes’ at St Ednoc in Cornwall’s Daymer Bay.
Yet for all that she loves spending time on the beach and swimming with friends and family, most powerful are the experiences she has in the sea when she alone. ‘It is mediative for me; a reset for my soul,’ she says of the regular solo swims she undertakes. ‘I’m a slow swimmer so it’s about being in the sea rather than the swim; I like to notice all the wildlife and to feel the shifts in temperature. I like how unpredictable the sea is and the seasonal nature of it – the ocean in September is a very different ocean from the January one. Everything changes from temperature to colour to mood.’
Six years ago, Candy, 52, took her love of sea swimming to fresh waters – literally – when she set herself the challenge to swim THE 70 K Lake Geneva, the largest body of fresh water in western Europe, as part of a relay team. ‘I had a stint in the relay where I got in the water in the dark and was lucky to watch the sun rise over the Alps,’ she says. ‘It was extraordinary and magical.’
The training for that event came at a crucial stage in her life. She found it ‘particularly helpful with symptoms of perimenopause, such as low mood,’ and cold-water swimming has remained a regular part of her routine since – not least because she can do it in the city where she lives. These days she swims outside twice a week at Shepperton Lake and Parliament Hill lido. ‘I love the cold water,’ she says, ‘it makes me feel amazing for days afterwards and I have a very robust immune system. They have a saying where I swim: “Whatever the problem, take it to the lake,” and I find that as I swim any worries tend to get resolved.’
With summer on the horizon, she’s making plans for her next big dips. One idea, she says, is to swim in the Lake District with friends, somewhere she’s never swum before. Already fixed in place is the 2.5km swim round St Michael’s Mount, back in her beloved Cornwall.
And yes, she still returns to those same beaches she visited as a child – more often these days with the ‘many families’ who join them on their stays. ‘North Cornwall is home from home for me,’ she says simply. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
One thing we can all do to help save our oceans…
…is to be mindful of our own choices. Calling out others for their wasteful behaviour is obviously helpful, but we need to think about how we behave around the ocean first