It's early on Sunday morning on the first weekend of spring, and Exmouth seafront is packed with people dressed in dry robes.

It seems all of Exmouth is out enjoying the morning sun, but it takes a certain kind of person who finds a dip in the sea acceptable on such a warm morning.

It's easy for me to say while I'm stood there in a big coat, clutching a cup of coffee.

I'm told the sea temperature is around 11°C this morning, but that does not put this group of sea swimmers off who are preparing for their morning dip.

After health and safety briefing from Exmouth RNLI, who tell the group not to put their heads underwater becuase of the risk of polluntants entering the body and making you ill, one group, the Swim Sisters, decide it is too risky.

"I'm not going in there when poo is floating around," they tell the Journal

"We find it really nice to enter the sea and start chatting to each other, but after being told by the RNLI to make sure we keep our mouths closed in the water in case polluted water enters our bodies, that's just disgusting."

Those brave enough to enter head down to the beach and go into the sea together. 

They are not in the sea for very long - but the mental health benefits of this cold water dip are long-lasting.

Within the hour, swimmers are starting to peter out and walk home for a hot shower before going about their normal Sunday with the mental headspace to face anything life may throw at them. 

Cold water swimming has a massive following in Exmouth - there are a manor of groups you could join, but some people just meet for a chat and a catch-up. 

Alongside the health benefits, cold water swimming has risen in popularity since the Covid-19 pandemic. People use the cold water to catch up with friends and socialise, which is important - especially after lockdown.

Penny from Healthscape said: "The cure for mental health is right here, plan and simple. The Covid-19 pandemic has put strain on the NHS mental health service, we have had people waiting for up to two years for treatment.

"If people come to Healthscape we would prescribe to them different activites that they could take part in. We don't want money to be a restraint and the group who meet here are so friendly to anyone who wants to join."

Geoff Crawford, an Exmouth resident told the Journal: "I come to Exmouth every week to dip in the sea. As well as helping cure a back injury I suffered 10 years ago, swimming helps reduce my anxiety, but entering the sea knowing there could be sewage there, gives me anxiety."

After being asked by the Journal how they feel after their dip, they said: "I feel tingly", "exhilarating" and "it really sets you up for the day."

To stay safe, you can check the Surfers Against Sewage app before entering the sea, this will tell you whether sewage has been discharged into the in the last 48 hours. The South West Water Waterlive Map is also available during bathing season.

We are blessed to live in such a beautiful part of Devon, right by the sea and as the longer evenings draw in as we enter the summer, maybe you could try taking a dip in the sea early one morning, just before work. 

The group who met me on Sunday, March 26 say if you try it once, you will be hooked.