Swimmers and their connection to Wild swimming. #blog 6

Swimmers and their connection to Wild swimming. 

Blog #6 Ann Storr

 

Today's blog post was written by the lovely Ann Storr a freelance brand storyteller, food waste and sustainability expert. StorrCupboard is Ann’s food waste project, featured in national and international media including the London Evening Standard, The Guardian & BBC Earth’s ‘Regeneration’. An experienced public speaker and panel member, Ann’s work at the intersection of sustainability and food poverty provides the opportunity to raise new insights and drive discussion.

As a Storyteller, Ann’s deep experience in psychology and interviewing enables Ann to dig deep and uncover her client’s motivations and drivers, crafting stories that mean their value-based brands can grow and sell.

Working with organisations to help them to make sustainable changes within the workplace and at home, Ann’s intimate knowledge of making sustainable choices on a low-income provides an inclusive empathetic message and actionable changes.

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When I was 17, I went on holiday with my parents. I told them: No churches. No museums. No trips. Just me and my Shelley’s duffle carrier bag of books.

My dad’s stipulation? He would swim in the lake over the road, three times a day. Before every meal, he’d cross the track in his sandals and swimmers, and return half an hour or so later, refreshed and happy.

I’ll have at this, I thought. The perpetually stressed dad was calm - what was this voodoo? But - you couldn’t see the bottom - couldn’t see ahead and JESUS WEPT DID SOMETHING ALIVE JUST TOUCH ME? I squealed as every white teenage girl squeals and swore that was IT. I felt so vulnerable, so lost and little. Never again.

Skip forward 20 years and I’m passing the time whilst my youngest is at a rehearsal. We live in the countryside and there’s no point in going home whilst she’s learning her part as Village Girl number Three (she was ace).


Two weeks before my husband and I had realised that our marriage wasn’t working. After two kids, four homes and thirteen years together, it was never going to work. My head would pound every day, migraines sprouting in my peripheral vision. He was able to visit a friend for a week, take some time. My career was getting busier and, being self employed, I couldn’t just stop. I would sleep in the day, endlessly phone amazing friends and just kept on. Slogged on.

Waiting for my daughter, I wandered the grounds and realised that you could reach the river. The dog likes a paddle so I encouraged him to clamber down the short bank, but it was too steep. So we sat. I probably talked to him. The water looked so cool, and my tee shirt and yoga pants uniform clung to my clammy skin. Water spiralled over rocks and the golden midsummer sun shone through the glade and bounced off the water. The water was so clear (and shallow), and not a soul was on this private land, at the end of the road.

I pulled my clothes off and slipped into the river. The water was so cool. Sunlight pooled in golden circles under trees. I watched cows in a neighbouring field as I pushed my way gingerly up and down the river. No car noise, no people, no husband, nothing, just the cool water against my skin.

My dad prefers the sea and lakes to pools, and that summer I finally understood why. There’s something very soothing about the currents that you feel as the water moves around you, alive and there in spite of you. The water is not there just for your pleasure, but if you can abide the mud grabbing your toes or occasionally navigating through a field of cows to reach the perfect stretch of river, a world of calm and solace awaits.

That year, I pushed myself to go places and have conversations that I’d lived in fear of for decades. Every time I pushed myself to try something new, I found a refrain going round my head: “And the sky did not fall”. I pulled myself out of the river, dried off with my tee shirt and felt thankful for my short bobbed hair, grabbed the dog, collected my daughter and drove home. One by one I was shucking off my fears and anxieties and starting to build the life I wanted. Now I swim whenever and wherever I can, meeting a friend once a week to swim in a converted gravel pit, or with my friend’s daughter in the lochs of Shetland and, of course, the icy English Channel. I watch my kids throw themselves into choppy seas and throw handstands in the sea.

 

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Follow Ann: 

www.annstorr.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ann-storr-1390bb94/
Insta: https://www.instagram.com/ann_storr/

 






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