Athlete spotlight: Vanessa Ford

Vanessa Ford Open water swimmer

Vanessa Ford is one of those brave souls who swims open water in skins (without a wetsuit)! Like many others, she found peace and routine in her open water swims, despite the chaos that 2020 brought us all. She is an inspiration to our swimming community and an advocate for how OW swimming (even in winter!) can help your mind and body. Read her journey below:

Why do you do open water swimming?
I usually swim outdoors from April to September. This year I have continued through the winter as I really miss my usual twice weekly pool sessions. Swimming is my mental health saviour, it gives me the chance to work out things in my head and I always feel more positive after a swim.

Vanessa Ford OW SwimmerWhat made you brave enough to swim without a wetsuit?
”I’ve always been a wetsuit open water swimmer but decided to challenge myself this year and try to swim skins after extensive reading about the health benefits of cold water swimming. The feeling of the water on your skin after the initial shock is exhilarating. I also find that any muscular discomfort is reduced after a swim”.

What influence did the lockdowns have over your swimming?
“Lockdown has meant that I’ve continued open water swimming throughout the winter rather than reverting to my winter pool swimming schedule. Once it gets lighter I will be aiming to increase the number of swims I do. I’ve been mainly swimming in the river at Stony Stratford with a few swims at the Blue Lagoon”

What would you say to those who haven’t tried OW swimming, or haven’t done it in skins?
“If you love swimming and nature, give it a go. I would encourage swimming with a buddy, starting with short swims and paying real attention to how your body and mind feel while you are in the water. It’s not about how long you’re in or how far you swim – it’s about enjoying the open water while remaining safe.”
Thank you Vanessa for your sharing your story. Interested in being one of our athlete spotlights? Drop us a message and let’s have a chat! It’s all about sharing our athlete’s successes and taking pride in sharing them with the community.

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