Rockingham Penguins cold water swim club boosting mental and physical health of members

Rachel FennerSound Telegraph
Brock Bevan says cold water swimming is addictive.
Camera IconBrock Bevan says cold water swimming is addictive. Credit: Rachel Fenner

At 5.30am on a chilly 13C Thursday, fishers can be seen rugged up in jumpers and beanies on Rockingham jetty while around them dozens of people are stripping down to their bathers and jumping in the water.

It’s not an unusual sight at the foreshore; the Rockingham Penguins, as the cold water swimmers are known, have been meeting here every morning since 2020.

It’s a way of life for group organiser Brock Bevan, who started swimming during the COVID lockdown.

Brock was struggling, didn’t have a job and his mum was sick, so in the middle of winter he began swimming.

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The cold water gave Brock a much-needed boost, so he decided to do it again the next day.

“The way I put it is everything was still there after I went for a swim, it just helped me think about stuff clearer,” Brock explained.

He swam for two weeks alone before a few friends joined him and from this humble beginning the Rockingham Penguins has grown to more than 2000 members.

Dozens of Penguins gather at dawn every day and either jump or wade into the sea. For those who like to sleep in, there are sessions up until 8am.

Australia Day was a highlight when a record 275 members showed up to take the plunge.

“I usually say to people come on down, once you start you get addicted to it, as we all have. All these people can’t be wrong,” Brock said.

“There’s a lot of positivity around this group, it’s overwhelming sometimes.

You know I’m just a bloke who went for a swim one day. I didn’t mean to start anything but I did.

Some members swim for their mental health; others to help with physical ailments, while others enjoy the social aspect.

Diane Peake was motivated to take the plunge after she noticed the group from where she worked nearby.

After a cancer battle, Diane said she was taking eight pills every morning to get going, a habit she’s since given up.

“I had chronic fatigue and took painkillers and anti-inflammatories; my body is riddled with arthritis, but I don’t even feel it anymore,” she said.

Laurie Sparnon celebrated his 1000th dip on Tuesday.
Camera IconLaurie Sparnon celebrated his 1000th dip on Tuesday. Credit: Rachel Fenner

Laurie Sparnon celebrated his 1000th dip on Tuesday morning and says the cold water has helped with his back pain.

The hardest part is getting out of bed and heading out into the cold, but Brock says the members say it’s worth it.

Plus science backs the practice: studies show cold water swimming has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and improves well-being in swimmers with asthma and fibromyalgia. There is also growing evidence that winter swimmers suffer from fewer illnesses.

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