Jazz Carlin and the Bluetits Chill swimmers at Harlech beach
Before retiring from competitive swimming at the age of 28, Jazz Carlin won world, European and Commonwealth medals for Wales and Team GB – including two silvers at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She teamed up with the Bluetits Chill Swimmers in September, for an exhilarating swim off Harlech beach.
'Water is my natural habitat – and to be able to swim in Wales, and do it in such beautiful locations, makes me feel very lucky indeed. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to swim in Harlech with the Bluetits. It was my first time in the water there, and I was blown away! As well as swimming from Harlech beach with them, I also had a dip in the outdoor pool in Portmeirion. I was in my element.
The Bluetits are chill swimmers. They don’t use wetsuits, even though they’re in the sea all year round. It was a bit of a shock when I turned up on the day and everyone was wearing swimming costumes: I’m more used to a heated pool!
I thought I’d be cold, but I wasn’t at all. The water was around 17 or 18 degrees, I think. It was strange – you get a weird feeling of warmth, and when you get out, you feel refreshed, revived and more alive. We had a fire on the beach afterwards, so there was no chance of getting cold as we dried off!
I was surprised by how quiet it was on Harlech beach. I lived in Swansea for seven years, and I’ve got a lot of fond memories of swimming off the Gower Peninsula. We had wonderful beaches like Caswell, Rhossili and Llangennith on our doorstep, but they do get popular in the summer. At Harlech, we hardly saw another person. There are so many more undiscovered spots like that all over Wales, perfect if you're looking for some peace.
Now that I’ve retired from competition, I’m keen to discover new places where I can go open-water swimming, especially around Wales. I want to explore the coast around Pembrokeshire a bit more. There are some incredible, quiet bays in in the north of the county.
Swimming in Wales is definitely on the rise. When it comes to competition, the results have been incredible, and I think that’s only going to get better. I’m working with Swim Wales on the elite development programme, giving up-and-coming swimmers the confidence and belief that they can do what I’ve done. I really enjoy mentoring the younger ones.
I’m also working on an online swim-training platform that will give people access to coaching and training sessions, involving world-class physios, nutritionists and sports scientists.'