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I am a mum to four kids, in my 50s, living in Shetland. I discovered wild swimming a couple of years ago after a particularly traumatic relationship breakdown. I felt like my life had imploded and was getting panic attacks. A friend encouraged me to go coasteering, there was a place with a group led by an outdoor instructor. It wasn’t the best of weather (April in Shetland still feels like winter) and the cold made my poor broken heart hurt even more and every cold slap of the waves in my face reminded me of all the times I had wished he would just hit me. I found myself weeping uncontrollably but somehow knew this was something I would have to do again.

Another friend had set herself a challenge of going for a dip in the sea in every month of the year and a few months later my addled brain told me I should try joining her. It was November and we were just in our swimsuits and I found I was hooked. I found that learning to breathe through wading into the cold water helped me breathe through the panic attacks. And the endorphin hit of a cold water dip was like a healing balm for my shattered psyche. And then there’s the special bonding with fellow swimmers over tea and cake  😍.

Shetland wild swimmer

A couple of years on and I swim about once a week . I am still rebuilding my life and finding my feet but the swimming has been a crutch. When things feel hard getting in the sea reminds me that I am strong, if I can do this I can do anything. I am brave enough to swim alone these days. 

Thanks for listening



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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