“My second pregnancy was difficult; I was diagnosed with birth trauma from the birth of my daughter. I lacked strength from years of health problems. I tried maintaining fitness but even getting to the pool took energy that I just didn’t have. After my son was born, I had post-natal anxiety and severe memory problems. Last year I was diagnosed with functional neurological disorder – a cognitive impairment problem, as a result of trauma to the head, the meningitis I suffered, and past traumatic experiences.
“It was Anna who got me into the open water. Wild swimming makes me feel strong again. And I’ve felt healthier than I have in years. It gives me time. It switches my mind off and there’s only me, and the water. Sometimes friends. And the occasional jellyfish. It reminds me that my body can do this and is something to be celebrated, instead of something that has let me down in the past. And it lets me show my daughter strength, fearlessness, and delight. At six years old she follows me in.”
Andie Katschthaler, 35, Austria
“I love how getting into the cold water melts away my issues. About two years ago I developed anxiety. I have ADHD and am well-adjusted, but the anxiety caught me unawares and I still don’t know how to deal with it well. Wild swimming helps with that. It’s like I’m shedding all my stress, anxiety and aches the moment I walk into the ocean. The cold water quiets my brain. And the exhilaration of it all gives me a dose of endorphins to boot. It’s temporary relief from feeling broken and, fortunately, it always lasts a while after a swim.”