Tell us about the Brighton Swimming Club? And what it means to you?
Melodie: So supposedly it's the oldest swimming club continuously running in the world, I think maybe there's one other one. They had two breaks – one was during WWII, I think it was, when they had to close the beaches. And then the other one was Covid, which is pretty wild when you think about it – a war and then covid.
Cat: It's like an entire support system – it's not just a swimming club. It's a way of keeping fit, it's a way of keeping healthy – mentally and physically. It's been there for the highs and lows of my life. It's been everything I could possibly want from a gang. I’ve done a couple of big crossings, so it's also been the scene of really committed, hardcore training. But in the winterit's really a social thing, because you can't stay in for long. I hate to use the cliche 'it's a way of life' – but it really is. It's so much more than just swimming.
It sounds like the community element is as important as the swimming then?
Nicky: Definitely – it’s a real, strong community thing. I’m an early morning swimmer and it's what I get out of bed for in the morning. You see the same faces, you touch base with everybody, you meet a whole community of different people.
Melodie: It's not just that I want to be in the sea. I want to be around these swimmers. There's something beautiful about going through that cold water experience with people. It really bonds you. And everyone's so lovely and welcoming and warm. I guess because you have gone through this difficult experience together; you put your life on the line, and you put it in other people's hands. It's like this unspoken thing of like – I'm looking out for you, and you're looking out for me. I trust you with my life, and you can trust me with yours.
It seems like there’s so much more motivating you all to swim than just physical fitness. How much of your swimming is about that? And how much is about mental health and happiness
Kati: And it’s the love for the sea, too. Just being in nature. That’s the main bit for me. Since joining the club I’ve started swimming more of course, but it’s still not the main reason for me to go in. I just love the sea and the waves and the coldness. The cold waterbuzz!
Nicky: If conditions were right, I would swim round the pier every day... and that's quite challenging! And I think – if I can do this, I can face whatever challenges are coming at me for the rest of the day. It sets me up.
Our SS23 collection was inspired by powerful bodies and powerful women. Researching the collection, our founder Laura came across Mercedes Gleitze, the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1927. What do you think of what she achieved?
Melodie: I think something that'sreally hard for us to wrap our heads around now – is that, at the time, sport belonged to men. Training belonged to men. The outdoors belonged to men. Mercedes was really breaking boundaries. And I'm sure she was being chastised and judged and scrutinised more than any male athlete would've been.
To have the resilience to stand up to that – because you just really enjoy something or arefuelled to achieve something – is incredible. And she did it with such grace. She donated a lot of her winnings and started a charity with her own money. She did wonderful things for the world.
Nicky: What's also really interesting about Mercedes is what happened afterwards. She kind of went back into obscurity – she didn't even mention what she did to her family. It wasn't even talked about, was it? I think that'ssomewhat the way women are about things.
Emma: She just did it for herself, didn’t she?