How Open Water Swimming Saved My Life...

My name is Matthew.. I am an alcoholic.

On the 26th June 2014 I had my last drink. This is my very short story of not just my open water swimming career, but also my career in drinking. Well anything I could possibly do to change the way I felt really. I basically hated myself and my world was in free fall.

My illness of alcoholism was going to kill me. If I ever picked up a drink today I would be dead within the week. Dramatic however true. Young, old, rich or poor.. It will take anyone. Destroying lives. Tearing apart families. It knows no boundaries. It is indiscriminate. It’s the truth behind this awful illness

My candle was slowly being extinguished and most mornings I woke up wishing I was dead.

Thankfully for me it's not like that today.


Open Water Swimming, Outdoor Swimming...Cold Water Swimming.. Ice Swimming.. Sea Swimming… the list goes on.

I love how it makes me feel. I love what it does to my body. My renewed Mental Health. My renewed Mental Well being.. My rejuvenation.. Born again.

The friends I have made, the people I have come in contact with, the camaraderie, the unique connection.. only one open water swimmer knows how another one feels. The shared experience, the memories.. the going back for more and more. To feel part of something.

I crave the adventure. I dream of the extreme. I seek out others like me. I want to share what I have found, to bottle it, to spread the word, to shout it loud. OPEN WATER SWIMMING WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!

My obsession with open water swimming isn’t going to take away my children, it's not going to cause me to lose my job, and it's not going to keep my mum up all hours worried sick.

My Open water swimming wont kill me, in fact it saved my life.

My time is for living now not for ending. I now binge on Open Water Swimming.

My name is Matthew…. I am an Aquaholic

Safe dipping everyone.. and keep coming back.

Matthew Hawkes

Whether its your local lake, your resident river or just down by the sea Matthew provides opportunities for all ages and abilities to swim outdoors, whilst at the same time helping them gain the knowledge and skills to do so safely and enjoyably. 

You can contact Matthew Hawkes on his instagram page @theopenwaterswimmingcoach or his Facebook page @MatHawkesTheOpenWaterSwimmingCoach


  • I love it too. But carnt take the plunge this time of year too cold. But desperately need too. I want someone with me but carnt find anyone to do it with.

    Wendy Wade
  • So valued this. Thank you for sharing. I have my own reasons for swimming, I guess we all do but the stories I am hearing along the way encourage me even more to stay with the journey and go where it takes me. Much encouragement to you, Sj (a fellow aquaholic) ❤

  • You are awesome.. That’s how water makes me feel. I just made my 500th mile in a pool after surviving 3 brain surgeries in 2018..
    Swim on..👍

    Carolyn Kittrell

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published