I’ve spent the last couple of days reading stories about amazing adventures: Ross Edgley swimming 1792 miles around the coast of Britain; Lindsey Cole swimming along the Thames, in November, in a mermaid tail (and two wetsuits!); Anna McNuff running across Australia, cycling across America, and meeting our contributor Ella Foote for a murky swim in the River Severn. Ella herself took off on a solo swimming adventure tour of Scotland in a campervan.
All of these stories (and many more) will be in the December 2018 issue of Outdoor Swimmer, which we’re sending to the printer this week. As I’ve been reading the proofs I’ve been, in turn, fascinated, awestruck and humbled. How can these people find the time, energy, determination, courage and money to do these things? For those of us with jobs, mortgages, families and other commitments, such adventures seem beyond the realms of the possible. We’ve even been questioned by the occasional reader why we publish such stories, when most of us have absolutely no hope of doing anything similar.
Personally, I find these stories fascinating. I love meeting adventurers and hearing about their travels and travails. I think the world is a better place because of them. And while I, probably like most of our readers, have no interest in trying to emulate their feats, I find them incredibly inspirational. They encourage me to look at life through the eyes of an explorer and ask: “what if?”. They prompt me to look for adventure in my everyday day and grab opportunities to build a little uncertainty into my activities. Adventure happens every time you take on something, however small, where you don’t quite know what’s going to happen: what if I take a different way home? What if I go away for a weekend and don’t pre-book any accommodation? What if someone I don’t know asks me to join them for a swim and I say yes? There’s adventure everywhere, if you care to look for it.
The other story that’s moved me in the December issue is our editor Jonathan’s interview with Katie Maggs. Katie is probably someone many of us can relate to more easily than the amazing adventurers mentioned above. While working as a lecturer in health studies, as well as being a mother and a carer for her father, Katie began struggling with the stresses and strains of her life. She became depressed, suffered from anxiety and sleep loss and wound up severely exhausted and more lonely than she’d every felt in her life. Then, a chance encounter led her to a new routine of daily sea swimming, a supportive group of swimmers and the opportunity to become the subject of the film Tonic of the Sea.
Outdoor swimming is still a niche and somewhat eccentric activity but as the stories we share show, it can be a huge force for the good, whether you’re an incredible adventurer or someone just struggling with what life throws at us. We’d like to encourage all of you who already swim outdoors to introduce this wonderful, life-affirming activity to as many people as you can. You never know how it might help them.
You can buy our current issue here.
Swim Wild and Free
Simon Griffiths, Founder and publisher, Outdoor Swimmer