Inspiring Women 5: Nicole Morelli

In this 5th Inspiring Women post, I catch up with the brilliant Nicole Morelli, founder of Menopausal Mermaids, a local cold-water swimming group. Here’s Nicole’s  in-a-nutshell bio:

1. She’s a 49-year-old mum of two girls, Lucia (8) and Giannina (6)
2. She sells delicious ice-cream! (You can find her at Morelli’s To Go ice-cream parlour.
3. She’s based in Portrush, Northern Ireland.

And here’s the interview 🙂 :

1. You’re the founder of the Menopausal Mermaids, a local sea-swimming group for women (and the odd merman or two). Can you tell me a little bit about how it all started? I was recovering from a hip replacement and was feeling pretty rough (heavy medication etc.).  I was at a birthday party in the beautiful Arcadia in Portrush and I got chatting to a friend, Maggie Purdy, who has blood pressure issues. We couldn’t take our eyes off the sea: there and then we decided to meet the following day for a swim -the rough sea just looked so inviting! I think we lasted about 2 minutes but the buzz and laugh we had brought us back the very next day.

2. How many members do you have now and how does it all work? We have over 200 members now between our Facebook and WhatsApp group! Most of it’s been word-of- mouth: people have heard about us or seen us and have just turned up on the beach asking to join us. It’s fantastic!

3. What do you think the main benefits of sea-swimming are – in general and particularly for post-menopausal women? The changes I have seen in myself and others are night and day! The high you get on coming out of that cold water: you feel so brave you feel you can do anything! I’m off all of my pain relief medicine now (I have osteoarthritis). There are women in our group with many forms of arthritis, angina, blood pressure issues, depression, skin issues. Every one of those women is feeling the benefits physical  and mentally from sea-swimming.

4. If people want to have a go at sea-swimming themselves, what advice would you give to them? Never swim on your own. It’s much more fun and safer to have someone with you! Get changed as quickly as possible after and bring a hot drink with you to help heat up your core! Hooded towels are a must and a bottle of warm water for you sandy feet!

5. Sea-swimming seems to be really taking off. Why do you think that is? It should be on prescription! I think people are hearing and reading about the benefits and the best part is that it’s free 🙂 .

6. What has sea-swimming given to you that you didn’t expect? It has given me a confidence in my body that I’ve never had before. I feel strong and invincible when I leave the water – not to mention the amazing friendships I have made which I know will last a lifetime.

7. What are the most memorable Menopausal Mermaid moments from the last 2 years? Last June we all got together for a swim and picnic at East Strand Portrush. We brought our kids, our husbands,and our partners. We stayed for hours chatting, swimming, and eating; and our kids who had never met just played. It was a wonderful day, considering we were strangers to each other only a few months before.

8. What’s next for the Menopausal Mermaids? Our group is growing every week (we get at least 4 new member requests a week). We just want to keep on swimming! We have a golf group now also, we meet and play once a month; we also have cinema nights, dinners and lunches. I never thought it would become so social but it has and it’s fantastic.

You can find out more about open water swimming on the Outdoor Swimming Society websiteI’m yet to join the Menopausal Mermaids for an adventure, but I’m feeling the call of the sea 🙂 In the meantime,  I’m just going outside and may be some time. (By the way, if you’re new to my blog, you can find more out about my #OldDogNewTricks project here.)