There’s no doubting that over the last few years wild swimming has become an increasingly popular activity. For some, you could say it’s more of a lifestyle. Now, thanks to the closure of public spaces throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, participation is well and truly booming.
For Laura Sanderson, her wild swimming journey began, not as a new lockdown hobby, but as way to mitigate the effects of a long-term condition called fibromyalgia which causes pain throughout the whole body.
It was following an accident that Laura first became diagnosed with the illness and she soon found herself suffering from constant stiffness in her body, as if she’d aged 70 years in the space of a few months. Eventually her fingernails and toenails began to fall off due to shock.
Though there is no cure for fibromyalgia yet, Laura was recommended cold showers to help alleviate the pain and swelling in her joints, as she explains to us over an Instagram Live session with us, held in partnership with Hydro Flask.
“Because I lived on the coast at the time, I thought I’d just go in the sea rather than stand in a cold shower, so that’s what I did,” says Laura. “Just standing there turning on a blast of cold water is so different from going into the sea or a river. You go in gradually. And the landscape is so beautiful – everywhere has got its own appeal in the UK, there’s so much to do here.”
For Laura, the soothing results of sea swimming can last for a couple of days, whilst the outcomes of fresh water swimming will be shorter. This, she believes, is largely due to the calming effect of saltwater on the muscles.
“I don’t suffer as badly these days as I used to,” she explains, “but if I do huge challenges then I’ll pay for it a few days later. So, it’s a trade-off. I do something cool, then take a week off.”
Over the course of these healing trips, an awareness of a different problem gradually developed. That being the effects of plastic pollution on the aquatic safe havens Laura had been discovering. Even some of the remotest of places turned out to be scarred by litter.