Wild Swimming and Body Confidence.



Last week, on our microadventure, I braved the cold for my first wild swim. I’m not a terribly strong swimmer and in the past, I’ve definitely preferred my water chlorinated and clear to the bottom of the swimming pool, so to have my first wild swim in any water but the sea was a definite milestone for me.

As I stood by the edge of water wearing nothing but my swimming costume, my boyfriend grabbed my phone and took my photo.  Then I cautiously clambered over the slippery rocks by the edge of the water, trying really hard not to break my neck, before sinking into the freezing cold water and swimming furiously to try and keep myself warm enough. Swimming in really cold water is completely exhilarating and as I came out of the water I seemed to warm up really quickly. Wild swimming in a beautiful environment at 6am is definitely a positive way to start a day, and one that I hope to do again.

When we got home, I had a look at the photo taken of me (taken from behind, as I gazed out over the water, just about to swim)  and my attention went immediately to the parts of my body that I’m not too happy with. Which, if I’m honest, is pretty much all of it. I stared and stared at it, confidence ebbing away. What the hell was I doing, wearing just a swimming costume in public? No matter that the only living thing there, apart from my boyfriend, was a curious cow…

Then I started to see the whole photo, not just my body. I saw that the photo represented what I was doing, not just what I looked like.  Yes, my thighs could be smaller, my arms more toned, but I was swimming in a lake. For the first time ever. The truth is this:

Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like. 

The body I have is my one and only vehicle through this life. I should cherish it. Look after it, yes—with good food and regular exercise—but be happy with what it is today. No putting things off until I’m thinner, fitter, better. Do them now. Jump into the lake, whatever that represents. After all, if my friend showed me a photo of herself wild swimming, would I criticise her body? Hell, no. I’d tell her how amazing she is to do something so exciting. Why are we always kinder to other people than we are to ourselves?

And so, to remind myself that my body is capable of amazing things, despite my lack of toned triceps, I have enlarged the photo and added text to it. It says this:

I live adventurously.

Because I do…


17 Responses to Wild Swimming and Body Confidence.

  1. dave says:

    Love this post, not only for the wild swimming (at 6am! crikey), but for the seeing beyond the photograph to what’s really there.

    I saw a quote recently (I’ve lost the source, alas) by a photographer saying something along the lines of “don’t shoot what it *looks* like. Shoot what it *feels* like.”

    Great advice.
    dave recently posted…A pair of queensMy Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you – and what a great quote. Definitely good advice, both for my photography and for my life!

  2. Zoe says:

    “Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like.”


    I needed to hear this, so thanks.

    And very well done – wild swimming is on my big list but is something I am quite scared about.
    Zoe recently posted…Photographs from a Lover of Mini-AdventuresMy Profile

  3. Stephen says:

    Hello my beautiful girlfriend

    I have just read this post and I really like it, but it makes me sad. Sad that you can’t see what I saw in the photo I took. I took a photo of the woman I love, admire and adore, being brave and going first into the cold water with some beautiful scenery in the background and a bloody amazing bum in a swimming costume.

    Different eyes see different things x
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    Yesterday I signed the final document…My Profile

  4. Really loved this post! I don’t think I could do wild swimming, whilst I love the idea I hate the thought of not being able to see what’s in the water, and the idea of swimming near fishes terrifies me! Plus I hate cold water, and getting my hair wet… : P It’s my loss, and indeed it is, because I think it would be an amazing experience.

    You do get up to some interesting things! I liked the caption you gave the photo. Yes, you do! : )

  5. Love this – that you went for it and tried and that you have an awesome boyfriend x
    Mammasaurus recently posted…Wot No Comments?My Profile

  6. I love this for so many reasons x

  7. Carlie says:

    Good for you! I used to worry about how I looked (that is: older, fatter, droooooopier, possibly a bit vacant) but then thought sod it – I don’t want my daughters to see me as a woman who watched, and never did. So I do, now. Anything. With VERVE.

    Go swim more! (And so sorry, I’m not at all usually this bossy)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Absolutely – I have a daughter too and would HATE her to think that she couldn’t do all that her brother does. Yet another reason for more adventuring!

  8. Brilliant post and I love your boyfriend’s response – that’s exactly what Greig says to me when I criticize my body! P.S. Well done on the wild swimming front x
    Kathryn (@KatGotTheCream) recently posted…Stuff my kid draws #2My Profile

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you! It’s funny isn’t it, how we see ourselves so poorly compared with how our loved ones see us? 🙂 x

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