Mental Health Swims
EXTRA,  FEATURES,  March 2024

March in the swim community

NOWCA and Mental Health Swims give us the lowdown on what they’re up to this month, from creating a natural swimming pond to welcoming more people into the open water community

Here’s what swim venue network NOWCA and mental health peer support community Mental Heath Swims are up to this month.

NOWCA: Our Pond Journey

Open water has always held a special place in our hearts. It’s a reset button we reach for every chance we get. So one morning in 2022 when we found ourselves in our own backyard, gazing upon a somewhat unruly expanse of grass and bogging pond. That’s when we had an epiphany – we were going to create a natural swimming pond!

The very next day, we started planning, measuring, and digging! Rain, hail or shine we were out there working on our swimming pond. Bit by bit our vision materialised before our eyes. The lining, the decking, the lights, and the wood cabin were coming together. We carefully selected aquatic plants to grace the pond, ensuring they played their part in natural water filtration, preserving its clarity and purity. We also transformed an old trailer, one wooden plank at a time, into a wood-fired sauna.

It took almost a year to build and it’s been so worth it! We felt compelled to share our space with others who, like us, seek moments of rejuvenation and reset. That’s when the idea of Somerset Swim Retreats was born.

Building the pond has been one of the hardest journeys but also one that has brought so much joy for us and many others!

Words: Clare Kiddle

Mental Health Swims: The healing power of cold water and community

Mental Health Swims is an award-winning, mental health peer support community. We host free, safe and inclusive swim meet-ups nationwide. Participants can swim, dip, paddle or toe-dip and can do what they are most comfortable with – we are firmly focused on dips, not distance and community, not competition.

We believe in empowering everyone – people of all skin colours, body shapes, ages, sexualities, genders, backgrounds and abilities – to enjoy the healing power of cold water and community.

Join us for a chat on the beach, a litter pick, a paddle or a swim in the shallows. We are an easy-going group that prefers short dips to long distances and puts companionship before competitive swimming.

If you’d like to find out more about us, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a message at

You can find your nearest swim meet on our Swim Map. Show up as you are, we will always welcome you.

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