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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > October 2018 > THE PAIN OF NEVER


Jonathan Cowie swims with Jessica Hepburn, author of 21 Miles – swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood


It is not often you meet someone for the first time in the middle of the English Channel, especially when they are swimming across it. But that is how I first met Jessica Hepburn. I was crewing for my friend Kerry, who was also swimming the Channel. She had already successfully reached France and we were now sailing back to Dover. En route we crossed paths with another Channel swimmer’s support boat. “That’s Jessica!” shouted Kerry. And we waved and cheered as she swam past.

“You should interview her,” Kerry said. “Her story is really interesting.” Which is why, three years later,

I am swimming a sedate heads-up breaststroke in the Serpentine lake with the woman the Daily Mail dubbed as being “addicted to IVF.” Jessica’s unsuccessful struggle to conceive involved 11 rounds of IVF, miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy and spiralling costs of £70,000. The pursuit of motherhood became an all-consuming obsession. And when she finally faced the fact that she wasn’t going to have her own biological children, she decided to swim the English Channel.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In our October issue we look at the hot topic of cold water swimming and whether it can help beat depression and find out how to get back your swim mojo if you need a motivation boost. Plus we test all the latest pool training gear; swim in wild waters in Norway, the Bahamas and Italy; and delve into the swimming history of America's smallest state. And we share more of your inspiring stories, photos and swimming adventures.