Leona about to get in the water.


I have lost count at the number of times I told my mind to move over, to turn down the volume of the noisy DJ in my mind playing tracks of fear and pain and to just let my body do what it was screaming to do… to get back into the cold water!

I started open water swimming in July of last year and instantly fell in love with it. I swam up until January this year and after a four-month break, I finally made it back in May.

During the summer months, it was glorious and so revitalising. It got a little more challenging in the autumn months, with the decreasing air and water temperatures, and the winter months really did push me to every breaking point I had, and introduced me to a level of mental, emotional and physical pain, but yet strength that I never knew was embedded deep within me!

Leona moving her mind over and enjoying living in the moment.

I have to say that I felt the most alive and connected to myself during that time, more so than in anything else I have ever done! I truly did ‘feel the fear but did it anyway’, which has helped me to grow and develop on numerous levels.

As described by Byron Katie: “Every time your mind shifts, your world shifts.”

Learning how to live more presently and connectedly to my heart and soul in my everyday life, as opposed to listening to and engaging with the stories that my mind wants me to get caught up in has really helped me to ‘find a way through’ life’s discomforts, pain and a lack of self-belief.

It takes a continuous and personal commitment to set yourself free of your mental chatter and to enable yourself to live more openly and in line with your goals and dreams.

So why would you want to put yourself through this pain of cold water I hear you ask?

The short and simple answer is: ‘it creates a moment where I am truly alive, feeling and living in the experience’ and when that dopamine buzz kicks in after your body adjusts to the shock of the cold water, it is worth every second!

When I am in the water, I am truly there, I am completely present and immersed in what I am doing – swimming in the water. I am not thinking about work, family, commitments, stresses or anything other than helping my body to regulate to the temperature through my breath and body movement.

That’s why I do it. It’s not because of the other associated health and wellbeing benefits such as an increased tolerance to stress, pain relief, decreased inflammation, increased immunity, the post-swim high of the hormone dopamine, good skin health, increased mental clarity, emotional and physical resilience, a jump start to metabolism, increased lymphatic circulation, it’s just because it feels so good for me personally!

(Ref: swimsecure.co.uk/blogs/safety-guides/benefit-of-open-water-swimming)

As beautifully put by Tim Ferriss: “Sometimes, what we fear the most is what we most need to do.” I certainly believe that as I have wanted to find the strength and courage to swim in open water for some time but I never believed I could tolerate it.

It has changed my life so incredibly. I have spent the last 10 months cold water showering after my hot water shower as a way of preparing my mind and body and to build my body’s positive and regulated response to the stress of the cold water.

In doing that, I truly found a way around, a way through, which has enabled me to uncover a new healthy addiction!

To leave you with the words of Bear Grylls: “Being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear but finding a way through it.”

Out of the water and enjoying the natural high.


1. Learn to recognise, identify and label your thoughts as you have them, especially the challenging and fearful ones. Do this through adopting a mindful approach to living in order to increase your every moment awareness.

2. When you notice these labelled thoughts creeping into your mind, affirm to yourself that these are only thoughts and that you don’t have to believe them. Are they even true? Do you believe them about yourself?

3. Ask yourself, ‘how can I help myself to feel better in this moment?’. ‘What does my heart and body need right now?’.

4. Listen to the guidance from your heart and soul as it will not let you down. Connect to this heart and body wisdom and breathe into this space.

5. Believe that you have the strength and resilience deep within you to follow your heart and not your head!

6. Relish in the triumph of ‘feeling the fear but doing it anyway’! Congratulate yourself on your amazing achievement!

Contact Leona

087 4161842