The Bluetits: When lambs become lions

“It’s much more difficult to do something that scares you when you’re alone. But when you have a community of people around you, it gets a little more comfortable for your brain to do whatever it is.” That’s how Sian Richardson, founder of The Bluetits, describes the wild swimming phenomenon she set up over 10 years ago.

It all started in 2014 with an Ice Mile. No Welsh person had ever completed one, and to a woman who spent years competing in triathlons, a mile didn’t sound like much. But in September on her first training swim on the coast of Pembrokeshire, the water was just 13 degrees, and it shocked her. 

Walking home, she felt elated, and when winter descended Sian kept swimming. As the water got colder, she attracted more and more attention. Some were curious, and one by one, began asking if they could join her. Over time, the numbers grew and a community began to emerge. 

“You’re the happiest I’ve ever seen you.” Sian’s husband told her one morning after returning from a swim, telling him all about the people she swam with and what had happened that day. He suggested they give themselves a name, and so, The Bluetits was born.    

Wild swimming is about strength and courage. Proving to yourself, and to anyone who ever doubted you that you can do it. “Always get out when you’re winning. When your brain is winning that’s what you remember for the rest of the day.” 

Now with over 100,000 members across the world, Sian loves watching people transform. From individuals afraid of the cold to a confident part of this incredible community, or as Sian puts it, “They arrive like Lambs and eventually become lions.”

The cold is my teacher series follows 12 amazing individuals and groups of fascinating people up and down the UK whose love of cold water has brought them together and inspired these incredible stories.
Continue exploring these fascinating stories below:

The Ice Viking

Fenwick Ridley is a titan. A Team GB Ice swimmer. An entrepreneur. A master of his mind and a lover of the ice. As he describes it, his body is “built for the cold”.

The Ice Viking The Ice Viking

Queen of the Cold

We all need a Jules King in our lives. A woman whose glass isn’t just full, it overflows with positivity. Determined. Life-affirming. Inspirational. A woman who overcomes so much every day to achieve the most simple things we can sometimes take for granted. 

Queen of the Cold Queen of the Cold

The Dales Dipper

Les Peebles is a wild swimming guide and the proud founder of a 14,000-strong community called The Dales Dippers. But that wasn’t always the case. Les used to be a joiner and a painter. He wasn’t particularly depressed or stressed in life but he felt something was missing.

The Dales Dipper The Dales Dipper

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