#mindfulmile swim at Port Eliot Festival

23rd August, 2019

Each year thousands of people flock to the Port Eliot Festival in St Germans, Cornwall to enjoy a combination of outdoor adventures, wellbeing workshops, music, literature, arts, crafts, comedy and local produce. OSS Swim Champ Katie Maggs, also known as Tonic of the Sea, runs a three-day mindful mile wild swim course there each year in the River Tiddy estuary.

Katie came up with the idea of the #mindfulmile to help to boost swimmer’s confidence in the water and to recognise their own bodies’ abilities when feeling secure and safe in a supported swimming group.

The non-competitive swim is open to all ages and abilities and is available to those who wish to challenge their own abilities and achieve a mile swim in a supportive, fun, relaxing and natural environment. It is a way for people to celebrate their own successes and to realise that we can achieve so much more than we think when we are in the right company and the right circumstances.

After a 10-minute walk through the woods, the swimmers enter the water on the left-hand side of the estuary at a clear deep entry point. Taking about 30 to 40 minutes, the swim is supported by tow floats, safety kayaks, paddle boarders and Tonic of the Sea’s safety swim crew making for a very calm, stress free, relaxed and mindful festival outdoor activity.

Katie describes the #mindfulmile swim as “not about times, what to wear, ability or speed – it is about people of all ages and abilities coming together to float and to chat their way down a very beautiful and relaxing part of the estuary. It brings about human connection, feelings of support, community and encouragement whilst simultaneously aiding our sense of pride, personal achievement, inner strength and communal belonging.”

Many of the swimmers were a little nervous to begin with but soon realised they could calmly chat their way down the estuary whilst also taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding wild rolling meadows, cotton wool scattered skies and silent forest woodland as they went.

Katie said “Many of the swimmers had not swam outdoors for years or had never dreamt of managing a mile, which is what made it so very rewarding.”

As the 50 swimmers made their way down the estuary each day many discussed their lack of time spent in nature or taking part in some quiet activity regularly for themselves.

One swimmer, an IT consultant from North London said “This swim has changed how I feel about myself. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so far away from all that crazy and so genuinely relaxed.”

Another swimmer, a busy working mother of two, explained that with no time for herself she would often feel anxious, short tempered and with a general sense of low mood and frustration about her day. “30 minutes outdoors to myself I’ve realised would help me to feel so much better about dealing with the chaos that is my usual working day. This outdoor swim has reminded me of my genuine need for that time in my life.”

Following the success of the Port Eliot swims, Katie will also be organising a #mindfulmile swim at the National Trust South West Outdoor, which takes place between 27th and 29th September at Penrose and the Lizard in Cornwall. Updates will be posted on her website www.tonicofthesea.co.uk or you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @tonicofthesea to find out more.