The community initiative making a splash

A quick dip, a hot beverage and a connection to community: simple ingredients at the heart of a genius idea (Image source: Michelle Wakim).

By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim and Rebecca Gaitaneris | @bec_gaitaneris

Over the last month, Adelaide has embraced an all-inclusive, connection-driven initiative called Salty Sips.

Every Wednesday at 6:30am, puffy-eyed, husky-voiced individuals gather on the grass of Henley Square for a sunrise swim, followed by a coffee at Joe’s.

Together, these individuals form the Salty Sips community.

Organisers Nikita Trewartha and Lily Biggs adopted the idea from a Perth group who follow the same routine. 

“Lily and I had already been catching up for early morning walks and swims, so it was already something we loved doing and really felt the benefits,” says Nikita.

“We both love jumping in the ocean, particularly at sunrise, and we know how good it feels for the soul,” says Lily.

“We figured it would be rude not to share that feeling with anyone who wanted to be a part of it.”

The pair started with humble expectations for Salty Sips, hoping it would leave some people “feeling uplifted and energised”.

“We decided, ‘why not give this a shot?’, not realising just how big and quickly it would grow.”

Since its beginning in mid-March 2021, the initiative has grown from six attendees to 230. 

That is 230 people getting out of bed on frosty mornings to jump in the ocean and engage with strangers. Now, more than ever, there is an appetite for community.  

“Human connection has never been so important with the pandemic restrictions, stigma around mental illness, and the negative implications of social media,” says Lily.

Nikita and Lily say the initial energy can be a little daunting for newcomers, but the water serves as the perfect icebreaker.

“Everyone is cold, some people don’t know anyone else or are still waiting for their friends to arrive. But as soon as we all get down into the water, you just see so many smiles and hear conversations picking up in every direction,” says Nikita.

 “We want people to feel excited and proud that they’ve pushed themselves out of their comfort zones whether that be through plunging into freezing cold water, getting out of bed early, talking to someone new… it could be anything.”

Nikita and Lily work hard to promote the mental and physical health benefits of this fresh wake-up call, and hope people who attend find what they are looking for in this initiative.

“We want people to get out of Salty Sips whatever it is that they need to get out of it,” says Lily.  

“It could be as simple as a motivation to get out of bed early one day a week, to do something for you and feel the benefits

“No matter the purpose of each individual, our aim is to put a smile on as many faces as possible and give everyone a positive and uplifting start to their day.”

If the last month has been any indication, Salty Sips has a healthy future ahead.

 “We’re most excited about working with other local initiatives that follow similar values to what we do, especially those promoting and creating awareness around mental health and wellbeing,” says Lily.

Just last week, on Wednesday, 28 April, Salty Sips invited Jack, founder of 21 Run Club, to talk about his program.

21 Run Club is “a running initiative to promote and link the importance of physical and mental wellbeing”, strongly aligning with the core values of Salty Sips.

Salty Sips demonstrates the potential for spirit and positivity in the realm of social media. On Wednesday mornings, Instagram is populated with delightful documentation from the ever-growing Salty Sips community.

Journalist Michelle Wakim has attended Salty Sips alone and with friends, and found both experiences equally as thrilling.  

“The morning I went alone, I met four new people. It was intimidating but rewarding, and the shared vulnerability of standing in the ocean first thing in the morning has a way of bringing people together.”

Follow @saltysipsadl on Instagram for regular updates on this wholesome initiative (we’ve heard merch may be in the works soon for “salty friends”, so stay tuned).

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