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Swim Your Way to a Post Show Talk with Bluetits Founder Sian Richardson

It’s been 30 or so years since Sian Richardson from St David’s appeared on the Torch Theatre stage. This April, the mother of five and founder of the Bluetits Chill Swimmers, will delight audiences, as she discusses her passion for sea water swimming in a post-show event held here in Milford Haven.

Kill Thy Neighbour, a new comedy thriller at the Torch Theatre has been inspired by the seaside village of Cwm yr Eglwys near Dinas and one of its main characters, Max, loves donning his trunks and swimming in the sea. To discuss this courageous hobby, Sian will host a post-show talk on Friday 26 April at the Torch Theatre.

“I love chill swimming, I absolutely love it,” said Sian who has just returned from Estonia having competed in the World Ice Swimming Championships against other chill swimmers from 42 countries.

Founded by Sian in 2014, the Bluetits Chill Swimmers now has over 120,000 members world-wide. The trend in sea swimming has grown in popularity in recent years with both men and women, and more people are ditching their wetsuits to get closer to nature.

“It takes tremendous courage to get in the sea, especially in the winter, and when I heard about the Ice Mile event, I thought why on earth would someone want to swim in five-degree temperatures. But after three years of training, I did it. I made a lot of noise, I laughed and sang when I entered the water, but I did, and the rest is history. The Bluetits was born,” said Sian who loves the buzz it gives her.

“It’s euphoric and you come out of the water laughing. It’s only a two minute swim but you feel really good and happy after, just as though you’d returned from a 20-mile run,” said Sian, who first dipped her toes in the sea as a chill swimmer at Porthsele in Whitesands Bay near her home.

“People hear me making a lot of noise and some think I'm mad, but others take a great interest and ask all sorts of questions and they sometimes join in. The swims are very relaxed and inclusive for all – men and women. It’s a not-for-profit company and when we go on tour, we call ourselves Tits on Tour,” laughed Sian who welcomes all to her swims.

The Bluetits got their name after Sian returned from the sea following a chill swim and her breasts were blue. Her husband, Alan, suggested she called her group the Bluetits and it stuck. Now daily swims are held all over the globe with many on the beautiful beaches of Pembrokeshire.

The benefit of chill swimming is recognised, and even though Sian doesn’t promote her hobby as a way of healing aches and pains, she says the effect of cold water immersion is beneficial for both mind and body.

“The cold water gives a tremendous shock to the body and gives it a massive reaction, like a fight or flight response. Once the adrenaline starts pumping through your veins, your sight, smell, and hearing are heightened, and it only takes 90 seconds for your body to acclimatise. We often swear, sing and shout aloud, but it doesn’t matter, it’s all natural, as when you leave the water, the world is a brighter place. It’s mind cleansing and an incredible re-set button,” said Sian, who has set up the Bluetits Headquarters in her hometown of St David’s.

But sport and swimming hasn’t always played a huge part in Sian’s life. She didn’t take up running until she was in her late 30’s when she suffered from depression.

“My life was rather perfect, and I was rather mortified when I ended up staring at a wall. I was told to take up running by a friend and after popping the pills the doctor gave me, I felt I had to do something more and that’s when I got fit. I would run around the farm or around the area in darkness so no one would recognise me as I felt I was too fat, having always been the fat girl in school. I then did 5k and 10k runs, then ran for Breast Cancer and ultra marathons and then long-distance swimming. This culminated in me competing in the Iron Man in Tenby but my hips weren’t working and I was convinced I wouldn’t complete it and I didn’t. But that didn’t matter, I was okay with that, I’d taken part.

“When I’m in the water, my hips don’t hurt. I’m in no pain. Our bodies go into survival mode. It’s not a cure by any means but it’s a momentary relief and I’m without pain for hours after. It’s for all age groups to enjoy and you’ll feel amazing.”

Sian encourages everyone to have a go, there really is no age limit.

“It takes tremendous courage to join any club or group – be it a book club or a running club but take the first step and go down to the beach. Whether you are 20 or 80, you’ll find someone like yourself. You might question if people are as old as you, as young as you, as fat or as thin as you – it doesn’t matter. What matters, is that you’re doing it and having ‘hwyl.’ You arrive like lambs and leave like lions,” said Sian who thinks that people should get out of their comfort zones and be a part of a supportive community.

Sian, now 59, was an active member of the Torch Youth Theatre when she was a teenager and has very fond memories of acting on the Torch stage.

“I remember a group of us from St David’s having to catch two buses to get to the Torch then relying on a parent to collect us. I just love the theatre; I love the stage and I really miss it. I miss the smell backstage, the darkness and the curtains and I’m really looking forward to returning to the Torch once again after some 30 years and being in the spotlight,” said Sian, an actress and singer, who was head girl of the St David’s Cathedral Choir from 1980-82.

To book your tickets to see the world premiere of Kill Thy Neighbour, followed by Sian Richardson’s Bluetit Chill Swimmers Post-Show Talk on Friday 26 April at 7.30pm, visit or contact the Box office on 01646 695267. Tickets are £23. Concessions: £20. Under 26: £10. Recommended age 14+ as the show contains strong language and references to murder.

Photo by Ella Richardson Photography


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