Harmless Voices

Meet Siobhan, a wild swimmer in Scotland

Project Harmless - Community Stories - Meet Siobhan, a wild swimmer in Scotland

A little courage is all it takes.

Siobhan discovered something of importance in her life, or, rather, a new daily routine, on a cold winter day on a North Berwick beach two years ago.

“I started a couple of years ago. I remember being on this beach on Christmas Day 2019 and I saw a man coming out of the water. I really wanted to give it a go.”

“It took me a while to build up the courage to do so, but I just got in the water and since then I’ve been hooked. It's a real thrill and it makes me feel great, so I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Project Harmless - Community Stories - Meet Siobhan - Siobhan at the Fairy Pools in the Black Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
Siobhan at the Fairy Pools in the Black Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

Swimming in the wild is a pure rejuvenation that costs nothing, but a little courage at first.

“I like being outside, I love being near the sea, even just hearing the sea makes me feel calm. I love the buzz that you get when going into the water that first time and the sort of…it just feels like everything washes away the minute you put your shoulders under and everything is put on pause, you know things going on in your life, or on the news that you're watching and it's really depressing. It just makes you feel really calm and gets a bit of peace in your mind.”

Wild swimmer Siobhan in North Berwick, Scotland
Siobhan on the iconic North Berwick beach in Scotland

Siobhan noticed another benefit of cold water swimming - it improves her mental health.

“Wild swimming is about being outside in an open body of water, whether it's the sea, rivers, lochs or any water space. There are lots of stories that people associate being in cold water with better mental health…it's believed to increase your dopamine levels, increase endorphins, and when you get in the cold water you have this flight or fight response which gives you a boost and a feeling of alertness. Certainly from the number of people you see going into the water and the stories they tell, it's definitely got some benefits for mental health”

“It's a very inclusive community. It's very friendly. I think it's for anyone, you don't need to be good to do it. It's for all ages, genders, and body shapes.”

“It's not just about the actual swimming, it's the afterwards, you'll have a coffee or hot drink and chat. And it's a really great way to socialise and just to be outside. We've had so long inside with covid and lockdowns, people have missed the interaction. So, it's just really nice to be part of it.”


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