Magdalena's swimming group
FEATURES,  Readers' Swims

This is my Alaska

Inspired by a dream holiday in Alaska and a jubilant dip in Ullswater, reader Magdalena Maklakiewicz-Evans decided to start her own swimming group near her home on the Welsh coast

It was time to be myself and to reconnect with who I really am.

My name is Magdalena, and I am an ordinary mum, wife and school practitioner at Llansannor Primary School in Wales. I feel a desire to inspire others to enjoy the gorgeousness of this Earth, by exploring our surroundings.

From a young age I dreamt of visiting Alaska. For me it’s a place that represents freedom and wildness.

Now, I wasn’t exactly the most fortunate of children as a little girl. I grew up in poverty and hunger at times. It’s not a nice memory. But I grew up determined to grasp my desires. Visiting Alaska was The Dream.

Living the dream

A few years ago I was lucky enough to visit this amazing place and spend a few days in Sitka and Juneau, exploring, hiking, and simply breathing in the pure air. I felt such contentment and freedom in my heart.

After my journey I felt exultant and healed. I also had a strong will to inspire others to explore the goodness of this world. The oceans, lakes, and rivers. The calmness and feeling of freedom that can be found in water.

Inspired by Alaska and its beautiful water, I decided to find a place in Britain that would remind me of Sitka.

Hello Lake District!

It didn’t take me long to find most beautiful view while on holiday in the Lake District, and a place to have a splash.

As I sauntered into Ullswater, for the first time in my life I felt pure happiness. The true feeling of it.

I couldn’t let go of that feeling, so I went dipping in the lake again and again and again.

From lakes to coast

I live by the sea, which I visit regularly for walks along the beach, but I’d never thought of going in. But after my travels and my beautiful experience in Ullswater, I decided to have a dip at my local beach at Llantwit Major. I was so desperate to have that happy feeling back again.

I was greeted by greeted my glorious sunshine on the beach. Bizarrely, as I was heading down towards the sea, my friend Carys was walking there as well, desperate for some time in the water herself.

It was then that I realised I could share my happy moment with other mums, friends and family. That dip was the highlight of mine and Carys’, and we wanted to repeat it again together.

Spreading the joy

It didn’t take long for me to take it slightly further. I created a social media account and WhatsApp group for others to connect and heal in the sea. I called the group Pebbs & Rocks.

Three years later, the group has grown to over 30 members who regularly gather at the beach and share happiness together. We go on Full Moon dips and on swimming travels together as friends. We ‘Pebbs’ also meet up as families, and out children have become good friends with each other.

Following my dreams and being myself has brought me joy, happiness, health, strong friendships and a feeling of family. And it’s brought health and happiness to others. My dream of making a difference has come true. And I have created my very own Alaska.

This is just one of many chapters of my life and there’s so much more I could tell you.

I’m here in a beautiful part of Wales called Llantwit Major.

I’ll see you at the beach.

Read more of our readers’ swim stories here.

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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.