Beware, no wetsuits are permitted past this point. Only swim togs, swim hats and booties. That’s not just in the summer either, for June Curtin and her Snámhaí Sásta community, it’s 365 days a year.
Dressed in an eye-catching outfit of a bright pink swimsuit, a colourful flowery swim hat and her signature red lipstick, June was easy to spot amongst the crowd at Bloom 2023. Bord Bia had invited her to take part in a photoshoot for The Coastal Garden along with her friend from Snámhaí Sásta.
A proud Clare woman, June has lived beside the sea all her life but rarely swam before 2018.
“When something is on your doorstep, you can take it for granted. I never appreciated the power of the sea and the benefits of sea swimming. For me, the mental benefits sometimes far outweigh the physical benefits,” she says.
June set up the Snámhaí Sásta Instagram account in 2018 to promote the benefits of sea swimming and the importance of minding your mental health. Sea swimming became an outlet for her which helped to reduce her stress and anxiety following the death of her husband John to suicide in 2013. She had tried different forms of exercise like walking and going to the gym before it occurred to her to go in for a dip.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done a swim that I’ve regretted, I always come out feeling so much better.”
After that first swim, she realised she felt more productive and more able to face the challenges that arose throughout her day. The release of endorphins, the feel good hormone, are what make sea swimming such a powerful practice. She decided to set up the Snámhaí Sásta Instagram account and that night she posted that she’d be going for a dip at Spanish Point beach the following morning. On day two, Mary, a local woman from Spanish Point turned up to join her. From there, the community continued to grow and on the one-year anniversary more than 700 people arrived for the 9:15 am swim. 1,400 people showed up for her biggest event to date with Stephen and David Flynn from the Happy Pear. “It was lovely, breakfast on the beach afterwards and a country music disco.”
June radiates positivity, not only in person but also on her Instagram account. Her funny videos and insightful captions give you a strong sense of her innate kindness which makes it easy to understand why she has amassed over 28.4 thousand followers. If all Instagram accounts were as uplifting as Snámhaí Sásta, social media would not be considered toxic at all. “You have what it takes to get through even the most difficult days, it’s in the moments when you feel weakest you are displaying the most strength”, is just one example of a caption that June has posted on her account.
June’s daily rituals and enjoying the little pleasures throughout her day are very important to her. Her honest, no judgement approach to mental health has helped a lot of people that are suffering. She also admits that some days in the depths of winter, it’s not easy to take the cold plunge. “I’m parked at the beach, the wind is howling and it’s raining and you’re sitting in a car with heated seats and it’s hard to get out. Those are the days that you don’t want to, but they are the days that you need it most probably.”
Incredibly, June raised over €100,000 for the Mid West Simon Community by swimming three times a day for 21 days last December 2022.It is no surprise that she was named as Clare’s Most Inspirational Person at the Gala Retail Inspiration Awards and she also recently received a Mayoral Award for her “Outstanding Acts Of Achievement at County Level”.
If you want to get involved, follow Snámhaí Sásta on Instagram or turn up at one of their swims at 9:15 am at Spanish Point beach in Clare.