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Open water swimming – Improving body, mind and spirit

Anna's story

In the summer of 2020, the start of a difficult time for many, I decided to tackle cold water immersion to help improve my physical and mental health. This form of swimming focusses on immersing oneself into cold water (in my case, the sea), wearing only a swimsuit. Despite other people’s opinions to the contrary, I gave it a go and I have already felt its positive impact on my body, mind and spirit.

I was lucky enough to grow up living by the sea, and spent my childhood running down to the water after school. As I grew older, I began to swim semi-competitively. I have recently undertaken my beach lifeguard qualification, which was both physically challenging and exhausting, and I’ve had great fun with colleagues in the civil service swimming competition since I joined HMLR. I look forward to meeting up with the team again in the future.

Before 2020, most of my swimming experiences had been in a heated swimming pool, or if not, most definitely in a wetsuit and in the warmth of our summer months. With swimming pools mostly closed because of COVID-19 I had to turn to what I had right in front of me – the sea. I quickly recognised there was a community of open water swimmers in Plymouth and the surrounding areas. What a comforting way to see and speak to other people (socially distanced), slightly alleviating those feelings of isolation due to working from home.

A new year, a new challenge

To kickstart 2021, my colleague and I decided to ‘take the plunge’ and sea swim every day in January. So far, we have been blessed with the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets as well as dolphin spotting and laughter along the way, with lots of other shivering swimmers. We’ve set ourselves this challenge to raise awareness and money for the amazing charity that is the Samaritans.

Positive impact on body, mind and spirit

When I am in the water, I can zone out and think of nothing other than how cold it is, and how I need to control my breathing. Once this part is done, I can take in my surroundings and enjoy every minute of just being there. My mind has never been so clear. Running into cold water is invigorating. I love being around other swimmers, connecting with them and enjoying the pleasures of nature. I have now understood the capacities and capabilities of the human body by exploring my spiritual core. This experience has brought me positive engagement and fulfilment in all aspects. Who knew, all I needed to do was jump into the cold waters of the Plymouth Sound! 

And as for my next challenge – I plan to take on ice swimming (swimming in water 5°C and lower) and various competitions over the summer months. Next year (2022), should also be an exciting year for myself and the HM Land Registry swim team as we are planning on completing the English Channel swim as a relay. 



Please always swim carefully and responsibly in open bodies of water. Do not swim in quarries or anywhere there are 'No Swimming' signs. For information on outdoor swimming check out The Outdoor Swimming Society and familiarise yourself with their 10 Top Tips for swimming safely before open water swimming.


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