Dani’s Her Spirit Winter Swim Challenge

I’m the last person I know that would swim in a freezing sea, in the dead of winter.  Believe me.  Having lived at the coast for 11 years, I NEVER felt it calling me in, apart from the odd paddle up to my ankles in 30 degree heat.  So, how on earth did I end up completing 108 sea swims during the coldest months of the year?  I shall explain.

2020 was a testing year for everyone, I’m sure you’ll agree.  We were about to enter another period of restrictions after a relatively free summer, and I felt like I needed to restore my sanity.  I’d lost my dad during the first lockdown, dealt with being redeployed in my NHS job, lost all of my freelance work and didn’t have the usual comfort of hugs, kisses or cosy pow wows with my friends and family.  If I’m honest, I felt emotionally desolate at this point.  I’d read about the mental health benefits of cold water immersion and was curious.  Actually, it was more than that, I felt compelled to jump right in.  I mentioned it to some friends and they had been thinking of doing the same thing.  Well then, why ever not?  Our first winter dip was on November 14th and it was the most exhilirting thing I’d done in a very long time.  I was hooked.

In my enthused state, I researched information about open water swimming and whilst doing so, stumbled upon Her Spirit and the Winter Swim Challenge.  It was synchronicity, fate, the stars were aligned!  I signed up immediately realising the ‘challenge’ would be the thing to spur me on – to give me a focus and an extra purpose to my water adventure.  From being awarded ‘Swim member of the Month’, to having positive interactions with other Her Spiriters, to attending informative fireside chats with the most knowledgeable and interesting speakers, I realised I was part of a fabulous community.  What a find.

And the winter swimming – well, I can’t imagine not doing it now.  There’s something very special about winter sea swimming and I genuinely believe it did help my mental state.  There’s something humbling about being immersed in a huge body of water.  I realised how small I was in the scheme of things, it made me feel vulnerable and yet I would emerge triumphant, warrior like, ready to face anything.  It gifted me resilience.  And I shall continue on as the months grow warmer and the sea loses its frostiness.  I’m still not the best swimmer – strictly slow breaststroke, head up and out of the water apart from the odd occasion I dunk my face in because it’s meant to be a good remedy for wrinkles, hahaha!  But, it doesn’t matter.  I did it, I’m doing it and here’s to many more swims to come.