It might be cold out but that hasn’t stopped some folk from taking a winter dip in the sea off the coast of Ayrshire.

Wild Sea Women Ayrshire is a group that formed at the end of last Summer, the period between the two lockdowns, and they’ve been seen taking to the sea in recent weeks despite the sub-zero temperatures.

Their aim is to get women into the sea for a quick plunge in the cold water, citing the many health benefits that cold water therapy is said to provide.

The water temperature of the sea at Prestwick Beach is about seven degrees Celsius around this time of year, cold enough to cause hypothermia to the uninitiated, and Michelle from Coylton, who runs the Ayrshire group, says anybody wanting to give it a try should do so with much caution and never for more than a minute at a time per degree of the water, "but everyone is different so 1 to 3 minutes might even be enough" adds Michelle.

Michelle Haley was inspired to get an Ayrshire group up and running after witnessing the success of her friend, Haley Dorian, who’s a qualified Wim Hof instructor, and her Wild Sea Women group in Sunderland.

Michelle, who is originally from the North East of England was persuaded by Hayley to try cold water swimming.

“She asked me to go for a swim with her in the sea one winter, I thought she was crazy, but I said I’d give it a go and I just loved it.” said Michelle.

She continued to go for cold water dips with Haley every time she went back to Sunderland to visit and soon she got the itch to start up her own group in Ayrshire.

She added: “I used to go swimming by myself a lot and people used to look at us like I was crazy, I was the only person in there.

“I created a group on Facebook and about 40 friends joined, but none of them came in with us, and so I shared the group to swimming clubs in the area and since then loads of people have joined we’re getting more and more people linking up to go in and just before we had the latest lockdown we were getting 20 or 30 people coming to have a dip on the beach.”

Although they’ve been unable to meet up as a group recently, individuals have kept the spirit of the group alive.

Michelle said: “We’re disappointed we can’t arrange anything at the moment, but we’re still managing to meet up in pairs.”

“It’s a group for women, to really try and empower women. A lot of girls have body confidence issues and they feel kind of intimidated if there’s men in the group, so that’s why we’ve kept it a women’s’ group, but we do want men to experience it as well and we’re in the process of setting up an ‘Ice Guys Ayrshire’ as well.”

“It’s brilliant, especially during these times as well, for stress relief for feeling good about yourself, to get them endorphins going.”

General safety advice for beginners:

- Check the sea conditions. If it’s not safe, don’t go in.

- Go in gradually, this will help adjust to the cold

- Focus on long exhales as you’re getting used to the initial change in temperature

- Stay in for no longer than one minute per water degree.

- Warm up gradually afterwards, not quickly. Warming up too quickly can actually cool your core further and be dangerous.

- Never go alone, always have someone in the water or to ‘spot’ from the shore.