Braving the cold . . . Coming back in from a morning sea swim last Friday are (from left) Natalie Carpenter, Lichelle Guyan and Jane Thompson. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

‘‘When you’re out there, you can’t think of much else.’’

That’s what Oamaru woman Jane Thompson says of her regular morning sea swims with a group of mostly women who gather at Kakanui’s Campbells Bay with their boogie boards three mornings a week, and brave whatever the elements throw at them.

Kakanui residents Jules Heatherington and Frances McElhinney came up with the idea back in January.

‘‘I’d worked with Frances on a couple of different things, and she asked me if I wanted to come along, and then it kind of extended,’’ Ms Thompson said.

‘‘We were all going to pottery classes, and so we got a couple of people from pottery to come along, and yeah, just sort of, as we meet people, we invite them along.’’

Numbers varied each time from one or two to as many as 15 on one day — when Mrs McElhinney’s extended family took the plunge to help celebrate her birthday in mid-May.

‘‘It’s invigorating . . . one of our sometimes members . . . reckons it makes her invincible, and I wouldn’t disagree,’’ Ms Thompson said.

The Moa Bakery, Cakery owner, who lived with chronic fatigue syndrome, said the sea swims were her equivalent to cryotherapy — a suggested treatment for the condition.

‘‘I looked it up, and it’s $90 a session . . .so I’m going out and saving myself $90, three times a week.’’

Rain or shine . . . Out there doing it no matter the weather, are (from left) Lichelle Guyan, Jane Thompson, Cara Tipping-Smith, Jules Heatherington and Frances McElhinney. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

She had noticed benefits, not least of which was an attitude shift, because it was so much fun.

‘‘You get almost a bit of a high from it, and you’re feeling so good afterwards.’’

Group members had their own rituals for afterwards. Somebody would bring a thermos of tea to share, and all brought hotties to thaw out.

A man who occasionally joined in would bring a Tupperware container and empty his hottie water into it for a ‘‘nice long footbath’’ at the end.

Although she had bought a wetsuit, Ms Thompson was reluctant to use it, and still set out each time in her togs, booties and gloves.

‘‘I know that as soon as I use it, I won’t go back. So, I kind of feel like — I’ve got no evidence of this — but I feel like, therapeutic›wise, I’m better in my togs . . .

‘‘My legs feel a little bit cold when I first go in . . . but, yeah, it feels fine.’’

Mid-winter sea temperatures at the bay were at present hovering below 10degC, although the group never wanted to know the exact temperature until after their swim.

Best way to start the day . . . Heading into the water at Kakanui’s Campbells Bay with their boogie boards are (from left) Lichelle Guyan, Natalie Carpenter and Jane Thompson. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

All were finding it helped them enjoy life a little bit more, she said.

‘‘I mean everybody’s been through s…t in the last few years, and the weather’s been really cruddy.

‘‘So I think it really helps to kind of cope with a lot of that stuff. I think it’s a really good stress release . . . So you’re just out there doing that, without worrying about how you’re going to pay for this or that, or worrying about whatever you’re worrying about, kind of thing.’’

There was no easy way to enter the water, but Ms Thompson said it helped to do it all together.

‘‘We just go — make some whooping noises and just go. I think the sound effects help, and apparently people who live up on Harbour Tce can hear us.’’

Anybody was welcome to join the group, which meets about 8am on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.