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’s currently being screened around the UK and internationally, after it will be available online. If you’re interested in catching the full film check out the list of screenings below.
For inspiration I’ve also created a Wild Swim Collection of all the spots that feature in the Film