Sea Gals take the Plunge!




Looking for the motivation to get out of bed early? It might be time to join the Sea Gals, a chance to plunge in the ocean and meet new female friends..

Formed in February, the group is growing rapidly. More and more women are emerging from their homes at dawn to splash in the sea, improve their mental and physical health, and enjoy a fresh start to the day.

Sea Gals founder Tara Ashley chats to The Starfish about the group’s rapid growth, and her plans for it to expand around the nation..

Can you explain a bit about what Sea Gals is?

Sea Gals is a new Perth movement that started by accident for women. We get together at a different Perth beach once or twice a week at 5:45am to run into the pink water and meet new people.

How did it come about?


Early in February, I saw my best friend Asha post on Instagram one day that she went to the beach for the sunrise,  and the colours of the water and sky looked beautiful. So that night I set an alarm, and woke up at 5:20am to drive 12 minutes down the road to my closest beach –  and my life changed forever.

I posted a TikTok of myself going to the beach for the first time for a sunrise swim – and it blew up. So many girls commented saying they have always wanted to do that themselves but were scared to go alone or just never had taken the time to do it. So then I put out the word on social media, inviting people to com down to the beach the next week. Lots of people showed interest, but only five came; they are now my friends. But it’s all grown from there. I’m now running an event once a week and we’ve jumped up to more than 100 people.



Why did you start Sea Gals?

When I got together with the original five girls the first time, we instantly got out of the water and said, “okay when are we organising the next one?”. Because it’s such an invigorating experience; getting up early and diving into the water, watching the sky turn different shades of pink and purple before the rest of the world has woken up.

We all found we had the most productive and positive days after our morning swims. So, we organised a sunrise swim for the following week, inviting more people to come if they would like, just by word of mouth or my TikTok videos. Next time, 18 people came! After that swim, the girls were asking when the next swim was and where to find the information, and so Sea Gals Instagram was born.

I have had so many messages from different women, explaining they have body dysmorphia, mental health issues, they struggle to make friends as an adult, they don’t feel comfortable in a bikini…the list is endless. But they all pushed through that to be involved in Sea Gals and felt welcomed and not judged by anyone around them. That’s why I started Sea Gals. Because everyone has their own story. But coming together, doing something together. with strangers who have a different story to you is a magical feeling.

What were some of the biggest challenges you had organising this?

I haven’t had many;, everyone is keen to put their hand up and help. I now have a lot of people in other parts of Australia that want to run Sea Gals too, but that’s a future goal. I want to get Sea Gals established in Perth for a while first. And with the floods over east, it just doesn’t feel like the right time to start Sea Gals in other places just yet. I think navigating this as a recently graduated uni student with no “business”-running experience has been a struggle, but a very welcoming struggle! COVID is obviously a big factor to think about as well.

How does this differentiate from the swim group Cold Nips (an Australia-wide group that organises sunrise dips)?

Our group is only for women.  I admire what the boys behind Cold Nips have done; created something wonderfully hectic that brings people together. I was worried when Sea Gals started that I would be stepping on Cold Nips’ toes, but people around me reminded me that the beach is a public space, and that I’m doing something different, creating a group for women only.

Whilst I haven’t been to a Cold Nips event, from their Instagram I’ve gathered their energy and vibe is very high and go-go-go, which is amazing. In contrast, Sea Gals more of a slow, spiritual, connecting to nature vibe. I play slow morning music when we all rock up and encourage everyone to chat among themselves about what they are grateful for that day.



What do you see for the future of Sea Gals?

I  see collaborated events for Sea Gals in the future, for example a running session, yoga, journaling sessions, and other ocean related events in winter.

I’m also excited for when Sea Gals eventually goes national. I have had a lot of girls already put their hands up to help and run their own Sea Gals events in places other than Perth. We are in the process of starting north and south groups, so Bridey Eggleton will be running our south of the river events from now on while I run north of the river, which is exciting.

Are there any specific rules surrounding the group? Do you have to come to every meet up?

There’s no rules really! It’s just as long as you’re a woman or identify with femininity/being a woman. I don’t want to be discriminatory,  but just having a space where women can meet other women is important to me.

You don’t have to come to every event, it’s come as you please!

How has this helped you?

I felt very lost after finishing my psychology degree at the end of last year and I felt like I was in an “in-between” stage in my life. Bu Sea Gals has given me an opportunity to create a safe space for women and be a founder of something incredible that helps other people. I also lost a close friend a year ago, which broke my life in two. I worked with her, went to high school with her, and went to uni with her, so I had a new chapter of life after she passed because I left that job and started anew. She was a beach bum and I feel as though I’m carrying part of her with me throughout this whole process. I also think mentally just going for sunrise swims has given me a new perspective on life.

How have you scouted most of your new members?

I wouldn’t say it’s really scouting; I’ve just posted videos on TikTok and its naturally grown from there. Every swim I do, I set my phone down and film myself and others running into the water and then post it on TikTok, and every video I post seems to interest more people.

Do you have any previous experience organising big meet ups or groups like this?

Not really! I have experience in co-facilitating group therapy but that has been very basic and brief moments throughout my degree. I am very comfortable talking in front of others and being in charge. I was always called the ‘mum of the group’, so I feel like I’m really playing into that here.

How do you think this has helped you and everyone else surrounding COVID?

With the new restrictions in Perth, I have asked that people wear their masks when we can’t socially distance at the beach, but other than that I think it’s a nice ‘escape’ from COVID. I’m not encouraging people to forget we are in a pandemic and be irresponsible, but it’s just a nice way for women to connect with strangers when we’ve been physically and mentally isolated for so long.

Who is allowed to join?

Women, and any LGBTQIA+ members who identify as women, whether that’s our gender diverse and transgender friends, or non-binary folk. It’s inappropriate and disrespectful to question someone’s gender identity when they want to join Sea Gals, so I just encourage anyone who is comfortable in a female dominated space.




Do you have a team helping you?

I’ve just taken on Bridey Eggleton, a beautiful soul who introduced herself to me over Instagram and she will be running the south of the river events from next week onwards.

How do you think Sea Gals has helped empower these women?

Honestly, just the feeling of meeting another girl at the beach, standing next to you, running, and screaming into the water together is so powerful. I think there’s moments where we all look around at each other and go “wow look at us go”. Because 90% of us don’t know each other, and we’ve all come from different walks of life, different ages, and different circumstances.

There’s no pressure to make sure you look good, it’s all about helping you feel your best.

How many people are actively a part of Sea Gals now?

Our first swim was just me, then there were 6 of us. Next swim was 18 people, then when Sea Gals was made official it turned into 45 people, then recently at Coogee we had 125. It varies but I’m just happy if one person comes down!


Photographs: Tara Ashley

To learn more about Sea Gals visit their Insta site:

One thought on “Sea Gals take the Plunge!

  1. Great name (Sea Gals i.e.) and a great movement. Go Gals I say.
    Meanwhile, I note Tara referenced and acknowledged Cold Nips.
    My former next door neighbour Ryan here in South Freo is co-founder of Cold Nips
    Good to see both groups are going swimmingly.

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