Winter swimming challenge
Cold Water Swimming,  FEATURES,  NEWS

Will you Awaken Your Blue Mind this winter?

The Awaken Your Blue Mind Challenge is to complete 21 water-based activities over the winter months, from when the clocks go back at the end of October, to when the clocks go forward in March. Here’s how reader Simone Barry found the experience last year.

Last year, Simone Barry took part in the Awaken Your Blue Mind Winter Challenge for mental health charity Blue Tonic. The challenge is to complete 21 water-based activities over the winter months, from when the clocks go back at the end of October, to when the cloths go forward in March. Here’s how Simone found the experience.

“I’ve got a number of long-term serious illnesses. Last year I decided I needed to do something different – something to encourage me to get out there in the dark, winter months.

Winter swimming challenge

I signed up for the Awaken Your Blue Mind Winter Challenge. For me, it was a fantastic experience – there were challenges you could be on, by or in the water – some were active, others creative or mindful. It inspired me to go swimming in my local blue space – Strangford Lough. It is a beautiful place from Angus Rock at the mouth of the Irish Sea to vast sand flats at the other end.

And on the days when I was too poorly to leave the house, I could do some challenges at home, such as a water meditation.

My view on life has completely changed after doing the ‘Awaken Your Blue Mind’ challenge. The challenge encourages you to fully immerse yourself in your blue space through different activities to try. Now I know so much about the wildlife at the lough and the different habitats you find there. I even know the names of birds from the calls I hear! I found a whole new world out there – you just need to go and find it!

When I first took my dip the cold water my first reaction was ‘I don’t like this’, but once I got my breath, it was such an amazing experience. I felt such a high – I didn’t know it was possible. I noticed my legs, then my arms, which always feel so heavy, became instantly light. It was an escape from the tension and pains your body holds. Very quickly, getting into the Lough became part of my daily experience.”

Sign up for this year’s challenge

This year’s Awaken Your Blue Mind Winter Challenge starts when the clocks go back on 29 October 2023 and runs until 31 March 2024, when the clocks go forward.

On signing up you’ll receive your list of challenges and an ‘Awaken Your Blue Mind’ e-journal for recording your challenges and reflections. It is full of inspirational quotes about the restorative power of water.

Also, you’ll have access to the Facebook group to share your experiences with other like-minded people who are up for a challenge and want to discover a sense of wellbeing by connecting to blue spaces.

On completion of the challenge and receive your reward – an ‘Awaken Your Blue Mind’ badge.

Entry to the challenge is £10 per person (£12 outside the UK) or £20 for families. All proceeds will go to the Bluetonic charity. Cut off date for entries is 31 January 2024. Find out more at

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.