Our cover images policy at Outdoor Swimmer is, as far as possible, to celebrate real swimmers doing real swimming (rather than models doing pretend swimming). On our June 2019 issue we feature Joanne Jones, who works with us at Outdoor Swimmer in advertising sales. Jo swam the English Channel in 2017. The picture was taken by our editor Jonathan Cowie at 2Swim4Life in April 2019. We asked Jo what she thought of becoming the magazine’s cover model in addition to all the other jobs she does at Outdoor Swimmer.
How surprised were you to find yourself on the cover of the magazine?
Jonny [our editor] commented when he took the photo that it could be the June cover but as this was in late April, with press deadline a few weeks away, I presumed another picture might be better suited so it was a great surprise when I saw it, and I’m very pleased with such a lovely photo.
How have your friends and family reacted?
They’re very proud, and have been really happy, with people sharing it on social, and emailing me to let me know that they like it. I’ve also had some brilliant comments about how nice the picture is, which I’m really appreciating.
The picture was taken at 2Swim4Life – how did that swim compare with other long distance swimming challenges you’ve done?
The main difference was that it was in a pool, and I realised I’m not very good at counting lengths. Each mile I either over or undercounted and so I’m glad that the majority of my events are in open water. 2Swim4Life is a mammoth challenge but also very sociable as I was part of a team and therefore spend as much, if not more, time chatting and chilling as I did swimming, which was nice.
2018/19 was the first year you swam through the winter. What have you learned from that?
I’d always thought people who swam after October and before March were bonkers and I didn’t see the point, but I decided to try and keep going through November, and then took it a month at a time and I surprised myself about how much I loved it.
It’s such a surreal experience, especially in the snow. It’s so quiet and peaceful and still, which I really enjoyed: just you, your friends and the sounds of surrounding nature. It is cold, but you can manage that by going to swim often so it only drops a degree or two each time, but even when it got to less than 4 degrees the cold feeling doesn’t last. Rather, it’s the excitement, the endorphins, and the smile which comes from it that lasts, as well as memories, anecdotes, and lots and lots of laughter.
It also completely changed my perception of how I measure a swim. I used to think about distance, and time, as for the last few years I’ve been training for stuff. This was just about having fun and being in the water. We might have glanced at our watches to see roughly how long it had been but it didn’t matter. If it was fun. And it was worth sticking with it.
What are your swimming plans for this year?
This year for me it’s about diversifying. For a long time I’ve been honing my skills to be able to swim at my average pace for a really long time, as I did in my Channel swim, and not really paid any attention to trialling other sports.
Earlier in the year I competed in Neptune Steps, which made me realise how specific I’d trained my body to become, and so I’m trying to widen my tool kit of sporting ability. I’ve a Swimrun weekend at the end of June so I’m running more than I’ve ever done before, and I’m now doing things like yoga and gym workouts and a bit of kayaking and stand up paddleboarding which is making my workout regime a lot more fun and hopefully, making me a bit more well rounded.
Swim wise I’m working on swimming faster, but sustaining distance. I’ve entered the Thames Marathon, and I’ve put myself in the fast wave as motivation to try and get a decent time, and I’m also swimming the Henley Mile, where I’d like to beat my time last year.