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“He asked me to marry him in the pouring rain”

When nurse Amy Bilbrough joined the Sheffield Outdoor Plungers, she didn’t expect romance to blossom. She shares her heartwarming story with us.

“I’ve been wild swimming for as long as I can remember. I’ve swum in the Outer Hebrides, in rivers in the Yorkshire Dales, lakes in the Peak District and ponds in the Highlands. Basically, if there’s water about I’m sure to be in it! Whether it’s raining, snowing, or the sun is beaming, I just can’t help myself. I love being in the water.

I moved to Sheffield in 2016 to begin my nurse training, and through the bustle of life, wild swimming was put on the back burner. However, when I started my new job as a staff nurse, I met a fabulous colleague (and now dear friend) who reintroduced me to the waters of the Peak District.

Adventures in the Peaks

We’d often go walking and have a long summer’s day swim, which later in the year would turn into a very quick winter dip. This was always followed by a hot chocolate and a hot water bottle to warm us back up. I remember after one swim, my friend having to undress me as my fingers were so numb from the cold water!

We joined the Sheffield Outdoor Plungers (SOUP) for inspiration on where we could safely swim, and to join other people’s swims. On a sunny day in September, I asked my friend if she fancied a walk and quick dip in the Loxley Valley. She agreed, and I posted on the online SOUP group asking if anyone would like to join us. It got later and later and I remember joking to my friend that no one except one man wanted to join us. I felt a bit freaked out that it would just be us two and one stranger. But the SOUP group is a friendly one that I feel I can trust, so we all met on the shoreside and went for a dip.

First impressions

My first impression of Peter was that he was such a friendly guy, but a bit of an odd bod. I could imagine us being great friends but honestly couldn’t see anything romantically.

Peter on the other hand, if you were to ask him now, he would tell you he loved me from the moment he met me. We have so much in common; it’s weird how alike we are. We both love wild swimming for our mental health – it’s one of the main reasons Peter started wild swimming. That, and to meet new people.

Over time, Peter started joining my friend and I for other swims. As our friendship grew, Pete and I would often meet in the chilly evenings and sit on the shore for hours with blankets and snacks, just having a good old natter about life. Inevitably it wasn’t long before Peter and I became a couple while on a wild swimming adventure around the Isle of Skye.

A new swimming sidekick

Things blossomed and in November 2021, we found out we were expecting our first baby. Again, unfortunately, wild swimming was put aside due to a rough pregnancy and moving into our new house.

Our little girl, Matilda, was born in August this year, healthy and happy. We’ve taken her swimming a few times in the pool and she seems to love it. We both can’t wait to get back into wild swimming, with our little sidekick. We were gifted so many baby wetsuits when she was born.

In September, Peter took me to a cafe we’d visited on our first date. He then took me on a walk to a stunning waterfall in Whitby. Only trouble was, we couldn’t get to the waterfall because of the horrific weather! The moment was still magical because, to my surprise, Peter got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was pouring with rain and we both looked like drowned rats! Of course, my answer was YES.

A wild swimming family

We’ve set the date – we’re soon to be married in March 2023, with our daughter as our maid of honour. Following this, in May, we are due to have our first family holiday touring the NC500, with lots of wild swimming stops!

We are both so grateful for the SOUP community. I have the most amazing family, and without this group would never have the life that I have today. We both can’t wait to be Mr and Mrs Whitehead, and see what wild swimming adventures we get up to as husband and wife, mummy and daddy.”

Have you found romance while outdoor swimming? We’d love to hear your story – email news@outdoorswimmer.com

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Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.