Filmmaker Hannah Maia set herself a challenge to swim in open water at least once a month, for a year. Driven by a need to reconnect with herself and her body, Hannah discovered a new appreciation for the UK while healing herself along the way.
In February 2016 I found myself stripping down to my swim costume by a mountain lake in Wales. Mounted on a tripod was my camera recording the whole escapade. My big thighs were so white they made the exposure levels squiffy. This was pretty much the first time I had chosen to go cold water swimming. It was winter and I was on my own (not sensible). It had taken a two hour drive to the forest car park, an hour walk up to the lake and my first ‘swim’ lasted a grand total of 15 seconds. I was immensely proud of myself! I whooped, swore and laughed. My toes were painfully cold and my skin tingled. It was utterly, brain cheeringly, wonderful!
A few months earlier I had decided to set myself a challenge because I wanted to reconnect with the ‘old me’. I had always thought of myself as someone who was fit and active. Someone who liked taking on adventures, travelling to exotic places and just generally doing stuff. But after a recent miscarriage a sense of emptiness had taken hold – combined with a feeling that I’d let myself down – I’d let the podge creep in and the excuses take over. Committed to making a change I set myself the simple goal of swimming in open water at least once a month for a year. As I braved the elements throughout the seasons to swim in wild places, I developed a newfound appreciation for this beautiful island of ours and the quiet adventure that can be found when we begin to explore.
As a filmmaker (Maia Media) I decided to tell the full story of my year-long adventure in a film called My Big White Thighs & Me. The end result is a short film that encourages us all to turn down the volume on the demands of the world and to celebrate the quiet heroism of a female life and it’s body. It’s a story about womanhood, miscarriage, healing, loving your own skin & freezing your bum off in cold water.
My Big White Thighs & Me premiered at Kendal Mountain Festival 2017 and received an honourable mention from the jury. It spent 2018 on the road and is now available for public release. Enjoy it!