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That One Wild Swim - by Katie Maggs, Tonic of the Sea

What would I do and where would I find myself if it wasn’t for that one wild swim? A question I often ask myself when I am feeling overtired, anxious, stressed or rundown. There are times in my life as a busy working Mum that I can feel incredibly calm, confident in my journey, creative in my work and content in my surroundings – but only if I honour that ‘one wild swim’.

In the recent Christmas break I slipped into a wonderful routine of worry-free sleep, regular dawn swimming, a quiet morning to write and a feeling of endless courage and possibility. I felt exactly how I thought I should, that time didn’t matter, and that anything was possible if I just managed to be quiet enough to listen to my own intuition and follow its advice. As I strolled the seafront and the local park with mindfulness, new ideas would fill my mind. I experienced such clarity that I felt I could achieve anything if I just made sure I did it with honesty and an authentic heart.

Upon return to work and without realising it, my normal rushed working pace resumed once more. Time mattered, deadlines reappeared, swims were missed, and all the usual noise and panic returned to my life. A day of success with a recent published piece of writing turned into a time of self-doubt, comparison, worry about the future and low mood. Without that ‘one wild swim’ I was struggling to rationalise my feelings, comparing myself to others, doubting my journey and the worth of all my past and current work.

By simply adding in just a few more have to’s and by missing my regular me time I had in such a short space of time completely lost perspective on my life and of being able to celebrate all my own personal success. I had been published in a magazine and I had, through life’s lists, lost all confidence in myself. I doubted my future, I compared my journey to others and I felt a failure whilst finding fault in my projects and my work. From absolute clarity a few days before, my mind had become cloudy and I could sense a total shift in my ability to think positively about myself and my future.

Through losing that small space in my day in that ‘one wild swim’ I had lost the space I needed to grow. We all surely deserve to live out our childhood dreams, to recall our natural passions and remember all those things we wanted to do as a child, but lack of self-care in my book continues to be the thief of living a successful and purposeful life. How can we really love our lives when we always feel we should have done better? I am forever mindful of this when I post my own images on social media. I don’t want people to feel that they must compete, that they feel bad about their own lack of exercise or ability to get up and get outdoors in the day or early in the mornings.

My aim has always been to be completely honest about my own vulnerabilities and struggles in life in the hope to inspire and encourage others to try new things, experience new places, discover new parts of themselves and to feel confident to trust their own ideas and feelings. My message is to realise that the present is not always how it will be, how we see ourselves and how others see us will not always stay the same. We are all able to change our current situation and develop who we are by engaging in a small regular act of daily self-care and personal adventure.

Over the past few weeks we have had new faces joining us at the rocks for an early morning swim – proof hopefully that the sharing of my wild swimming journey has been a help to most and not a hinderance. When we fail to regularly selfcare, when we let it slip, when we think we don’t need it we lose the ability to fulfil our true potential, to celebrate others journeys and to have the drive and inspiration to celebrate and focus on our own. To me, that ‘one wild swim’ is so much more than just a swim – it is a gateway to the future, a road to self-discovery, a journey to our real, contented and childlike selves.  It is a reminder that as children we all once had grand ideas, hopes, dreams and a fearless sense of ambition – we feared not of other opinions or of their similar abilities we just soldiered on doing something that we loved, with focus, determination and joy.

And so, as I stand frozen once more, at the edge of the sea for a swim. Instead of a loss and a feeling of doubt I go home, I am me, it’s a win.  


Katie Maggs is a swimmer and author who writes on the topics of open water swimming and mental health. Her inspirational journey has been documented in the short film Tonic of the Sea and she will be publishing her first book of the same name soon. Visit Katie’s website for more information.

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