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HOW WILD SWIMMING HELPED BREAK MY ANXIETY

When Joe Minihane admitted to issues with anxiety, he turned to Roger Deakin’s swimming classic, Waterlog, for help. So began a long journey to retrace Roger’s dips, which has culminated in Floating: A Life Regained, his own book about wild swimming in the UK. Here he talks about his first swims and his attempts to recreate the classic ‘swimmer’s journey through Britain’

WILD SWIMMING

There’s a calmness in open water that’s impossible to find elsewhere. It’s down to the very ‘nowness’ of the moment, its simplicity. Move your arms, kick your legs and you’ll stay afloat. Nothing else matters.

I discovered this feeling on a hot summer afternoon in the mixed pond on Hampstead Heath. Until then, the only outdoor water I’d ever swum in was the sea, and then just a cursory few strokes before heading back to a beach towel.

What I found that day was a sense of presence and stillness that I didn’t realise I’d been searching for. My issues with anxiety were ones that I hadn’t owned up to at that point, but I lived in a world where worry was constant. It was stressful, tiring and hard to escape.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Welcome to our training special! Whether you have signed up for your first open water event or are planning an endurance challenge we have a plan for you – turn to page 44 for our one mile, 5k and 10k training schedules. We also have an intensive 10k DIY training camp for more advanced swimmers, as well as advice on how to successfully swim 24 miles in 24 hours and train for a swimrun event. Plus, our resident Olympian Cassie Patten answers your training queries and Total Immersion head coach Terry Laughlin trains your brain as well as your body. And if you haven’t yet signed up to an event to train for, check out our full listings starting on page 80. Outdoor swimming isn’t all about chasing that PB though. We hear from self-confessed dipper Joe Minihane about how wild swimming helped cure his anxiety and Ella Foote swims with Tessa Wardley, the author of a new book on mindfulness and swimming. And Jenny Landreth delves into the history books to explore the advice given to female swimmers in the 19th century. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.
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