Hi we’re Niamh and Joe! 👋
We started Against the Tide Apparel during the COVID-19 pandemic but our journey to a more sustainable life started long before that. After cutting short an ill-fated trip to Barcelona in 2013 (long story), we wanted to make the most of our remaining time off and booked a trip to Lahinch, Co. Clare.
It was here we discovered surfing. We started travelling to Lahinch regularly to surf and spending all that time in the water made us increasingly aware of the volume of plastic in our seas and the negative impacts humanity was having on our world.
This was the beginning of a move towards living a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
In 2015, Niamh was diagnosed with a rare form of migraine where she suffers paralysis in the right side of her face and body on top of more common migraine symptoms. She has had a headache every day since June 22nd, 2015, had to take a year out of work, and had to learn to walk again.
Migraine, who knew?!
So far, we haven’t found a medical treatment that has helped her significantly.
In 2019 we heard about a documentary called “100 Days of Vitamin Sea” about a fellow migraineur called Beth who had seen a 50% reduction in migraine by going for a sea swim every day for 100 days.
Around the same time, Joe was going through a pretty stressful time at work and had suffered a couple of panic attacks. He was hoping to find an east coast alternative to surfing that would help him get into a “flow state” and relax. At this point we should say he was not a confident swimmer, despite being able to surf.
Finding Sea Swimming
So on June 1st, 2019 we went for our first sea swim at The Vico in Dalkey. It was a bit of a choppy day. Niamh gingerly entered the surprisingly icy water and swam about a little. Joe belly flopped in and went hell for leather to get to the ladder.
It was short but transformative.
Niamh had facial paralysis when she got into the water. When she got out she had a full smile, the movement had returned to her face. We don’t know why. Our best guess is that the cold water was like hitting a reset button for her nervous system.
We started going regularly, venturing to different swimming spots depending on the tide. We even went the day after our wedding. We got married in Dun Laoghaire in September 2019 and started our married life with a swim at the Forty Foot.
A dip in the sea has become an essential part of Niamh’s ongoing battle with migraine.
It gives her some relief during a migraine and helps kick start her recovery after one hits. Outside of the physical benefits, we both saw the mental benefits. Joe’s stress reduced after a few weeks and when the migraine took away Niamh’s control of her own body, sea swimming gave her some control back.
It has had a profound impact on both our mental and physical health.
The sea has given us so much. We want to do our part, however small, to protect it.