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Why I Swim - Marie Smith

In January 2018 my lovely mum, Winifred died. She had battled for the two years previously following a massive life changing debilitating stroke in November 2015. She had fought daily with her goals of regaining movement. Her determination and strength of character made her hold on to positivity and hope. Always ‘you can only do your best’. She was brilliant, clever, funny, optimistic and an unwavering belief if you work hard eventually you’ll get there!

Marie and her mum

I miss my mum everyday. Grief doesn’t lessen, you just live with it.

By the time I was talked into coming for a swim I think I hadn’t slept well in months. I was like "yeah okay we can do that at some point" and the response was "okay now, get your stuff we will go in 10 minutes".

Swim one: Erm this is freezing... I’m not sure this is the one... I don’t want my elbows to get cold... oh god the shoulders... I cannot feel my feet...
Am I supposed to feel hot in my chest and back mate? Feels like I’m wearing a heated tank top. This is weird... I love this. I’m not getting out!!!! Why have I not done this before?! This is my favourite thing ever!!

So I swim because it stills my mind and makes me happy. Because it was a turning point in my grief and helped me sleep again. I mourned whilst I swam with my amazing mate at sunset on the tops of the Yorkshire Moors and giggled whilst we used the light on one phone to navigate down the hillside... many times.

That first introduction reminded me how much I loved the water and had forgotten. I started having a go surfing, bodyboarding, SUP and kayaking. I now obsess about future swimming spots and making plans for adventures.

That day I went swimming changed me for the better.



Our Why I Swim project aims to give voice to our untold swim stories and strengthen our fantastic community. If you would like to share your story, drop us an email at


If you are new to outdoor swimming and feel inspired to give it a go, please ensure you do so safely. 

Firstly, have a read of our tips for winter swimming here and familiarise yourself with what's useful to have in your wild swim kit.

We would strongly advise trying out your first swim with an experienced cold water swimmer until you are completely confident of your own abilities. 

The Outdoor Swimming Society has a great list of local swimming groups which is well worth checking out and a quick search on Facebook should provide results.

And if you have any questions, pop a post in the Swim Feral Facebook page and our fantastic community of swimmers will be sure to help. 

Happy swimming xx



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