The beach used to be a place where only bad things happened. According to The Smithsonian – a terrific magazine – prior to the eighteenth century the beach was characterised in mythology and the Bible as a place where solely crappy things occurred. Natural disasters, pirates, diseases, shipwrecks, and the general wrath of the Gods (or God). Think most of Shakespeares plays, to be honest and you will have the idea.
The beach used to be prescribed by doctors. The beach became a popular destination during the Industrial Revolution in Britain, largely because doctors prescribed it to their well to do patients. From late in the nineteenth century doctors thught that beach waves could help fight the black bile which built up in peoples spleens, which was supposed to cause depression. Wow.
But for females, it was often pretty crappy. In “The Lure Of The Sea” by Alain Corbin, the historian writes about the beach being used as an especially aggressive medical treatment to toughen up young ladies who appeared to fragile. The “bathers” would force the female patients into the sea just as the wave broke, being careful to hold their heads down so as to increase the sense of drowning. Nice. Medicinal drown proofing.