A GROUP of swimmers celebrated this year’s summer solstice on June 20 in style with a dip in the sea at North Berwick.

Made up of 12 members, the group, called ‘dippers’, became interested in sea swimming after taking part in Loony Dooks, which see members of the public take a swim in the freezing cold sea on New Year’s Day.

One of the swimmers, 48-year-old Derek Selmes, said: “Like many, I was keen to have a more regular go [at Loony Dooks] and was persuaded to join some friends just after Christmas.

“I remember wondering ‘what the hell am I doing?’ but was instantly hooked and went on to do a seven-day streak of dips.

“I have raved about the benefits of this to anyone who will listen and have got a few others hooked in the process.”

There are several groups in North Berwick who swim in the sea alongside Derek and his friends, who know each other as their children go to the same schools.

The group did not go for a dip during lockdown, as the RNLI issued a statement which asked people to not go in or near the water during the period to prevent unnecessary callouts and risk to its volunteers.

Some of the dippers, who go into the sea for the rush the cold water brings and often do not wear wetsuits, decided to go for a swim in the sea at North Berwick as part of a collective post-lockdown summer celebration at sunset of this year’s summer solstice.

The water was estimated to be about 11-12 degrees Celsius at the time.

The dippers often meet up for swims in the cold water and have set up a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other and arrange the dips.

While swims usually vary in length, they often last between one and two minutes.

Derek said: “Sunset dips become more appealing than our typical morning trips to the beach with the added chance to sit on the beach.

“We had some music on for the solstice dip and sang along at the top of our lungs.”

When asked what he enjoyed most about sea swimming, he said that he enjoyed the endorphin rush this kind of swimming gave him.

He added: “I have discovered that a cold dip brings me to my senses. There is a huge adrenaline rush from going in [the water] in winter months and it is impossible to be depressed, anxious, or frankly think of anything when the water is so cold that it takes your breath away.

“Then there is the camaraderie and shared strength of spirit gained to have gone in again.

“Down-tuned stress response is another great benefit for me – I find I can take way more in my stride when I’ve started the day with a dip. 

“I got hooked on running because I love that post-exercise high, but it pales compared to five minutes in the sea on a frosty morning! 

“There are other benefits most of us notice, from much healthier skin to blasting away aches and pains (and yes, even hangovers!).

“This isn’t about exercise for me, it’s headspace and fun with friends.”