Maverick Life


Moonlight bath: Selenophiles, Unite!

Moonlight bath: Selenophiles, Unite!
Happiness. Image: Supplied.

From LA to Langebaan, from Hastings to Hermanus, and all ports in between, full-moon dips are, ahem, bobbing up all around the peninsula.

You’re guaranteed to squeal. No matter your age. For one evening a month. You’ll have a giggle. You’ll connect, and you’ll reconnect. And, who knows, you might end up swimming to Robben Island one of these days.

That’s the cheery promise from event organiser Moxy Tribe’s Cecilia Schutte. Schutte, a swimming coach with an impeccable swim pedigree (including a triple Robben Island), decided she wanted to try a spot of moon-bathing after reading about it in a UK swimming magazine. It was a bit like that Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams. “Build it and they will come.”

And come they did. Loads of like-minded selenophiles.

Full moon over Onse Huisie. Image: Supplied.

Selene, the ancient Greek goddess of the moon, was madly in love with Endymion, a human shepherd boy, who was a bit of a hunk and an illegitimate prince. She begs boss god Zeus to grant Endymion eternal youth and immortality, so he’d never leave her. She then discovers how cute he looks as he sleeps, and it’s back to boss god, instant granting of divine desire, and Zeus zaps Endymion into a state of eternal slumber in a cave on a mountain. Selene visits him every night. They have 50 daughters. Those ancient Greeks knew how to spin a yarn. And so, to this day, if you appreciate the full moon, you are a selenophile.

At first, last March, just a few came, then 30 people came to the next full-moon dip; then 50. By November, there were 100 people, and 200 by December, most of them wearing tinsel, Santa hats and Yuletide grins. Last month, more than 300 souls pulled in.

At the last full moon just after Valentine’s Day, about 400 frisky souls pitched, with at least one wearing the slogan “I’m single and here to mingle” on their cozzie.

People are well aware of the many reported benefits of cold-water immersion. Swimmers report feelings of intense euphoria after a swim, as the body releases powerful “hug hormones” including oxytocin and endorphins. Swimmers allegedly note other benefits too, such as a boost to circulatory and immune systems, a flagging libido, and some even mention hair regrowth.

But there’s something more intangible too. Enter the full-moon aspect.

“People are hungry for this. After two years of Covid pulling people apart, we have the one place where it’s safe to reconnect,” says Schutte. “For one evening a month, you know that you will laugh, you will squeal like a child, you won’t be depressed. You’ll be off the couch, out of your comfort zone doing something you’d never normally do. People who haven’t been in the ocean for years are suddenly coming along and connecting to the ocean. It’s like a movement!”

Around the peninsula is Anya of the Flamingals swim group. She started the group last May at Clifton with just six bobbers, all of them with neon lights in their swim floats. The Flamingals also do regular tidal pool hops, which is a great way to introduce newbies to ocean swimming. All for a spot of non-commercial, community joie de vivre

Phoenix Open Water Swimming Club members are also keen selenophiles. They printed their first official poster this month. Rukeya Warner says that combining the “freeing” experience of swimming with the mystical nature of a full moon creates a very special space. “You feel a sense of positivity, focus and lightness. Stress and anxiety seem to fall wayward, and suddenly you feel free.”

Paul Abrahams. Image: Supplied.

Fellow club member, and the man behind the full-moon dips, Paul Abrahams says he could never understand why people rushed home after afternoon swims. He adds that about 16 people, young and old, rave about their new hobby – full-moon swimming. Unfortunately, parent-teacher meetings coincided with their last full-moon dip, but the bug has bitten.

And people getting back into the sea for the first time since childhood might suddenly find themselves swimming Robben Island, says Schutte, who has several of her full-mooners now enrolled on Robben Island training courses. She has given several motivational talks in schools and water safety workshops for disadvantaged youngsters and now plans to launch the Moxy Tribe Openwater Youth Programme soon, for a wider section of young swimmers.

“It’s about ordinary people like myself doing extraordinary things. Anyone is capable of achieving anything in their lives, no matter their age or upbringing. It is what you do with what you have that defines you. Some are just starting out in open water as 650m beginners, but are hooked. We added about 20 from our full-moon group to our training group recently.

“I get tons of people messaging on social media or coming up to me, thanking me for this event as they feel alive again in their lives.”

Warner agrees. “Who wants to join in? Anyone seeking the serenity the sea brings them,” she says. DM/ML


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