Open water swimming “My happy place” By Nina Tilley

2020 was my year of growth and trial and I have come out the other side with a community of incredible, supportive strong women. Back in February 2020 my Dad found out his PSA levels were high so he went for a number of tests which started to become difficult as lockdown was beginning these confirmed that it was in fact Prostate cancer. Then in May 2020 I decided on a hot day a slip n slide would be a good idea, while cleaning the plastic sheets I slipped on one foot and snapped the other ankle. I was in so much pain and thought my life was over (melodramatic much), now I have 6 pins, a screw and a plate in my ankle.

However, I had one aim and one aim only to be walkingish by my 21stbirthday which was 8 weeks from then. But those 8 weeks were not easy, and I would not have got through it without my parents, from my Mum being there to help me have a bath and my Dad taking me out on walks in a wheelchair, even when he was struggling himself. Before I was even walking, I was back to swimming and my Dad took me to an OW venue in Bristol, I can’t explain how I felt that day, but I just felt free, I was smiling for a week after.

If my Dad hadn’t taken me that day, I would never have found Her Spirit when I was back in Nottingham. I started going to Spring Lakes in August, then on 10th October 2020 I attended a taster session with Her Spirit. My stomach was in knots and I knew no one, anxiety sky high but I am so glad I went as it was the start of something fantastic. However, I didn’t really involve myself in the app until a couple months later. In between that time, I really struggled mentally, and got myself into a dark place, having bottled everything from the past year up and thought there was no way out, my friends really stuck with me as I was flipping out and constantly in tears and I thank them all the time. One other thing that helped me through was Open Water Swimming, something that I think has saved so many of us, and something that I feel needs to be experienced more.

My new year’s resolution became to focus completely on myself and Her Spirit was there, so I started to attend more sessions and involve myself in the community and it made a massive difference in my lifestyle and Mental Health. I still can’t believe I was awarded member of the month in January from a massive community of powerful women. Her Spirit is the perfect balance of community and fitness, as a student living away from home there are always people to support you and push you to your goals.

Since breaking my ankle, with Her Spirit’s support I have managed to walk 15K or more on multiple occasions. I have even completed a 40k cycle on one of the ‘tours du her spirit’, something I never in a million years pictured myself doing. I have loved being part of the community and think more young people should get involved as it helped me to see that my goals are my own and shouldn’t be based on unrealistic Instagram perfect models. Nobody is there to judge me just to provide encouragement and support. My next challenge is a 10K swim and Her Spirit will help me push myself to get there.