Jo and Rai take on our Make a Splash challenge

In this blog we hear from Jo and Rachel who took part in our Make a Splash challenge on the morning of #GivingTuesday. Our swimming fundraiser is a fun way to make a splash and raise some cash to help us reach more people sleeping rough and bring them into the warmth. 

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us why you decided to take part in St Mungo’s Make A Splash challenge?

Jo: Rai and I are part of a swimming group who try to get into the water all year round. We quite often do 10-15 minutes in the winter (as the water gets cold), and so when we saw the St Mungo’s Make a Splash appeal we decided that we would challenge ourselves to do the full 50 minutes in the sea!!

Rai: During December we’re all rushing around buying for our loved ones, it felt right to do something for those that don’t have as much as myself. I also wanted to do something that would test my own limits; the sunrise splash hit both these targets.

Image: Make A Splash swimmers
Jo and Rai after the swimming challenge

2. Do you think homelessness is a big problem in the area that you live?

Jo: Yes, and it’s getting bigger. There have been huge changes and more people sleeping rough throughout the year. In Cornwall there used to be a seasonal influx, but that season doesn’t seem to be there any more. There are people sleeping rough here all year round.

Rai: Cornwall is one of Europe’s poorest locations so we have a high population of people who are homeless. Additionally, when we have cold snaps – which are rarer this end of the country – people sleeping rough really suffer as they aren’t prepared for it as it’s not something that they would usually have to deal with.

3. How did you find the Make A Splash challenge?

Jo: We did 50 minutes in the sea in Cornwall where we live. The sea was about 11°C, so we got pretty cold; my fingers and toes completely stopped working until they thawed about an hour or so later.

Whilst we were in the water we had a good chance to chat about why we were doing this. We were both looking forward to some hot chocolate and a bath when we finished. When you’re homeless you just don’t have that luxury – that really struck a chord with both of us.

Rai: As well as the usual refreshing and exhilarating experience, it was also marked by a sense of purpose. In the last 10-15 minutes it was especially difficult to remain in the water as the coldness was beginning to creep into my arms and legs, and I had no control over my fingers and hands (a first for me during a sea swim).

4. Do you regularly swim in the sea? Tell us what it’s like taking on an open water challenge during the winter months.

Rai: I have been regularly swimming in the sea since November 2018 – I try to go at least once a week. I always swim without a wetsuit. The best part was completing the challenge – not because of the fact it was over but because I was so proud to have pushed my cold water acclimatisation ability.

Jo: The weather can be unpredictable and we won’t swim when it is dangerous to do so. We have looked out at the sea and thought, hmmm, maybe not today! The morning on #GivingTuesday was absolutely gorgeous and there is something peaceful and beautiful about seeing the sun rise over a wintry flat calm sea on a cold crisp morning. It was definitely inspiring.

5. What do you hope St Mungo’s will be able to do with the money you raise?

Jo: I hope that it will help St Mungo’s to make sure that homeless and vulnerable people will be able to sleep safely. I really love that they are accepting of homeless people with dogs. I own two and they are such a comfort when things get too much – I can’t ever imagine having to choose between them and being safe in a bed at night with food. I hope that in supporting St Mungo’s, fewer people have to make this choice.

Image: Dogs-make-a-splash
Jo’s dogs came out to support the challenge

6. Have you got a message to any supporters thinking about taking on our Make A Splash challenge this winter?

Jo: Do it! It’s brilliant and really gives you time to contemplate and appreciate the important things in life.

Rai: My message for those thinking of doing the Make A Splash Challenge would take the form of some advice for those who want to do more than run in and out of the water.

  • Cold water swimming is all about mental fortitude!
  • Take your time getting in and breathe through your cold water shock response. It’s perfectly natural to gasp and shiver but it will pass once you’re fully in.
  • Once you’re in, stay close to the shore and get out before you start shivering again – even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
  • If you can, swim with someone else who’s into it.
  • Wrap up warm when you get out and appreciate the lovely sensations!

7. Would you take on the challenge again yourself?

Jo: Yes! 51 minutes, bring it on!

Rai: I plan on doing the Polar Bear Challenge in 2020, which I hope to include St Mungo’s Make A Splash challenge.


Fancy taking the icy plunge? You can still take part in our Make a Splash challenge.