Your Stories

Abigail's
Story

Potential barriers to open water swimming and swimming, in general, appears to be the issue of underrepresentation.

I am currently training to be a lawyer. I love learning and as a trainee, you’re afforded opportunities to develop your knowledge every day. I balance the intellectual demands and stress of my job by swimming as much as I can! Since March 2021, I’ve fallen madly in love with open-water swimming, and I am happy to say that I’ve managed to swim through all four seasons!

Abigail wearing a black jacket and pink scarf, smiling whilst taking a selfie in-front of the lake.

I am very proud to be one of six women participating in this year’s “This Girl Can Swim Henley,” and to have the opportunity to swim in my first ever open water event on 10th July 2022. I feel so blessed to occupy a space on the This Girl Can platform, helping to inspire women to get active, sweaty and happy through exercise and movement. I am determined to use this opportunity to make a positive impact on as many women as I can.

Potential barriers to open water swimming and swimming in general appears to be the issue of underrepresentation.

Part of the reason I decided to participate in, “This Girl Can Swim Henley”, is to show people who are often underrepresented in the swim world that they can join too. I really want to share the joys of swimming with everyone, but I particularly want to share my love of swimming with every single Black and Brown woman and tell them that there is plenty of space for you in the swim world.

I want to shout out as loud as I can, that everyone, regardless of their race, culture, gender identity, religion, age, body shape and swim ability, that they too are entitled to the joys of swimming – whether that be indoors or outdoors.

During the pandemic, I was studying to be a lawyer, a profession that is known for being incredibly stressful. I knew I needed to equip myself with strategies that would enable me to deal with any stress that was thrown my way during my forthcoming training contract (a period of 2 years in practice training to become a qualified solicitor).

One of the most effective stress management strategies I discovered was the Wim Hof Method. Through Wim Hof, I learnt about the power of the cold and how cold exposure can enhance the mind’s ability to cope with stress more effectively. It didn’t take long to convince me that the Wim Hof Method would be a brilliant tool under my belt, not just for whilst I was studying to be a lawyer, but for life.

Abigail wearing a full wetsuit, standing on the boardwalk by the lake.

Incrementally, I spent more time in the wintery outdoors, finding solace in nature and the cold. I took things a step further by moving on to taking ice baths and eventually when lockdown restrictions were eased, I took up cold water swimming. It’s now over a year since I started outdoor swimming! I keep going because I’m 100% convinced there is no better experience than swimming outdoors.

Not so long ago, I was a regular at my local gym. I would look forward to a good old cardio warm-up in the gym, followed by an hour-long yoga class in an airy studio. That nice little routine came to a massive halt when the pandemic hit and all gyms were forced to close. There was no way I could go without doing yoga, so YouTube became my best friend. Instead of either waiting for a class to begin or rushing to get there on time, I could do yoga whenever it suited me.

Classes were also now on my terms: I could pick a class based on what I wanted to do, not what the teacher planned on doing with us. This was a game-changer for me and for now, I don’t see myself either going back to regular indoor yoga classes or working up a good sweat lunging myself up the stair master machine. Part of me misses this a little, but the draw of the outdoors is stronger. Now I can’t go a day without going outside. I truly believe that the pandemic forced me to appreciate nature and the outdoors much more. It really was a breath of fresh air to get out of the house for a walk during the initial lockdowns where we had to abide by tight government restrictions.

As soon as the second lockdown came to an end and outdoor venues were allowed to open once again, I found myself beginning my journey into open water swimming.

A year and a bit later, I haven’t looked back. Now, I just want to take things further and swim in as many different locations possible as well as take on big open water swim events. I really do love the adventure of it all.