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Not drowning but waving

When Katie Maggs suffered a breakdown through burnout, she could barely function and felt that she had lost herself. Then, a group of swimmers encouraged her into the sea

Each day, as dawn approaches, I cycle downhill to the sea. As I make my way to Battery Rocks, a wild swimming spot off the coast of Penzance in Cornwall, I hope to find my regular swimming friends there. In the dark, I can just make out their shadows, huddled together, sheltering from the wind and laughing at the madness of it all.

In the wintertime, the sea turns grey and there is an uninviting murkiness to it. Some mornings, I dread it – I feel tired and cold, and wonder what on earth I am doing out here in the dark. But, as I plunge into the rolling waves with icy rain pelting against my skin, I get an overwhelming sense that I am doing something extraordinary – that, if I can do this, then I can face almost anything. In the summer months, my swims are long, the sea feels light and the sky is full of colour. Venturing underwater, I swim through long strands of golden sea kelp, past brightly coloured jellyfish, starfish and grey seals. It is hard not to feel happy here, watching another world go by. It is almost as though the slow pace and natural silence give me a daily reminder of how rushed, busy and chaotic life can be on land. Depending on my mood, I don’t always have to power through the waves, feeling strong and confident. Sometimes, I just go in and feel gently supported by the sea. Whatever the weather, whether I am worried, anxious or sad, I know that I will always feel better when I emerge.

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