Edie’s Hong Kong 360 Swim #ilovehongkong #HK360Swim

Edie Hu, one of the founding coaches of Splash Foundation, will be attempting a solo 45km swim circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island, i.e. HK360Swim, on 3 November 2018. This will make Edie the first Chinese-American woman to swim around the Island. She expects to complete the swim in 12 to 15 hours, aiming to raise HK$500,000 for the Foundation which will go towards its philanthropic efforts in the future.

Splash Foundation is the only charitable organization in Hong Kong which offers free swimming lessons to domestic helpers and children from low-income families. The Foundation seeks to educate, empower and connect the 370,000 strong foreign domestic helper community, accounting for 5% of the city’s population, by teaching this life skill.

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In preparation for the challenge, Edie has logged more than 700km in open water swimming over the past 12 months – the equivalent of swimming from Hong Kong to Taiwan!

Follow Edie’s swim via a real-time tracking website or, cheer on Edie and follow her progress onboard the Simpson Marine support yacht on the day.

All proceeds raised will go directly to 2019 programme expenses and if we reach our goal, that means 250 people will have the chance to learn how to swim next year!

To contribute towards Edie’s fundraising effort, click here.

To know how Edie is preparing for this ultra-distance swim, follow her on @edieswimshongkong

Talking about the swim she says:

“Water has always been a part of my life. My fondest childhood memories centred on the summer swim team, which I joined when I was 7…

 After college, I was burned out from competitive swimming and took a long break from the pool. It wasn’t until I moved from New York to Hong Kong, that I started swimming again. Without any open water swimming experience, I tried the 2.2km Shek-O Challenge race and found it really freaky yet exhilarating. But the experience emboldened me which led to further races. I was soon immersed in the open water swimming community, swimming endless miles at sea with friends and this group has become my family in Hong Kong. Thus began my obsession! I have now swum most of the local races including the Clean Half and Cold Half as well as the Maui Channel, Rottnest Channel Swim and most recently the English Channel with a relay partner.

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 One of the things I love most about swimming in Hong Kong is that it has connected me to the city in a way I never could have imagined. I feel very fortunate to experience a completely different perspective on Hong Kong’s natural beauty and as my friends know, I always have camera in hand to capture it all (check out my Insta feed @edieswimshongkong)! The water is getting cleaner, the sea-life is getting richer and there are undiscovered beaches, waterfalls or caves around nearly every corner. If my HK360Swim encourages just a few more people to discover the joys of swimming in Hong Kong, it will be worthwhile.

 Around the same time I discovered open water swimming, a group of us also started Splash, providing free swim lessons for Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong. What started as a whim quickly grew into a full blown charitable organization. I was continually inspired and humbled by the determination and gratitude these women and men have for their one opportunity to learn how to swim – a life skill that I previously took for granted. So I am thrilled to use my HK360Swim to raise money and awareness for Splash. 

Out of the water A Lotus Rises #WSC

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Calling the WSC!

Dear Lotus – Can you help ?

Are you female, aged 20-30, swim indoors 1-2 times a week and London based? A global sportswear brand wants to better understand the swim habits and training of this demographic. It’s not about being a competitive club swimmer, more about women who regularly incorporate a swim into their fitness and well-being regime individually, and alongside other activities.

The timeframe is very tight for this – please get back to us tonight alotusrises@gmail.com if you are keen to apply and we will send you further details of the straightforward application, which needs to be submitted asap.

If selected, participants will need to be available to take part in a paid study, week commencing 5thNovember 2018. It’s anticipated the research will take up to 1 working day in total, but much of the engagement would fit around day to day life.

At a time when 1 in 4 adults in the UK can’t swim and fear of judgement is identified as a significant barrier for women taking the plunge, we see this engagement as a really positive step. If you fit the criteria and can help us continue to nudge the swimwear world in a positive and inclusive direction – do get in touch.

Please note, A Lotus Rises #wsc will receive a referral fee for any people who are selected for this research through our introduction – any referral fees will be used to fund our workshops and programme development.

Out of the water A Lotus Rises.

Thank you WSC!

@ALotus_Rises #WSC

alotusrises@gmail.com

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Out of the Water A Lotus Rises #wsc

Tonic of the Sea #alotusrises

Tonic of the Sea is a beautiful award-winning short film directed by Jonathan J Scott about open water swimmer Katie Maggs’ journey with mental health and her refreshingly honest account of falling into and recovery from burnout, anxiety and depression. Upon the incredible success of the film at 2018 Film Festivals and after being nominated for the BAFTA short films award Katie has gone on to write her first self-help book also titled ‘Tonic of the Sea’. Within her book and in the publishing of her writing in UK magazines she describes more details of her journey with mental health, crucial factors that supported her recovery and clear achievable suggestions to stay well in the future.

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Picture Credit Emma Winks

Katie will also be presenting at the Wild and Well Festivalin Bristol this coming October on the topic of ‘Nature Cures’ and is showing her film and discussing the chapters of her book at the Kendal Mountain Literary Festivalin November. There will also be an exhibition of her inspirational wild swimming photography in the small coastal town of Penzance, Cornwall at the beginning of the New Year.

For up to date details on the publishing of Katie’s book or to hear more about her current projects and upcoming exhibition you can do so through her website www.tonicofthesea.co.ukor by following her on Twitter and Instagram @tonicofthesea.

A Lotus Rises #WSC caught up with Jon and Katie to find out more about their collaboration.

How did the collaboration come about?

Katie: The collaboration with Jon came about from a swimming friend of mine who teaches at the same College – she saw a post Jon had put on a Wild Swimmers website searching for someone who had had difficulties with mental health or physical illness and had found the sea to be helpful in their recovery. My friend sent me the information and I emailed Jon to see if my story might be something that he was interested in. Luckily after a brief phone conversation he was.

Jon: As a travel and adventure filmmaker, I’m always drawn to unique stories that are connected to the outdoors. I had been hoping to get my latest project off the ground (or into the water…) for quite some time. But, due to logistical and technical difficulties, I had struggled. Having never shot underwater properly, I wanted to embark on a project that would challenge me both creatively and technically — goals this project certainly fulfilled. Having reached out to the UK’s wild swimming community via social media, I was inundated with requests from those who were keen to be involved. On speaking to Katie Maggs  I was immediately struck by her openness and honesty when talking about how she had struggled with mental health, and how wild swimming had helped here recovery. I knew immediately that I wanted to tell Katie’s story.

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What things did you have to consider as a film maker in addressing the issue of mental health and also how best to convey the relationship with the water?

Jon: When making a documentary I find its extremely important to let the story tell itself rather than trying to force out a story, my job as a film maker is to facilitate that storytelling and do my best to express it through a visual medium. Katie’s openness and honesty along with her passion for swimming meant that this was quite a natural process. Once we had shot everything, it was a matter of working with the footage and audio in the edit shaping it to best tell Katie’s personal story.

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What enabled you to share your story in this way?

Katie: To convey my mental health journey I just felt I had to be as honest as possible about what happened to my physical body and my mind. Everything had just collapsed through ‘burnout’, it was almost like my brain had turned itself off in a bid to protect itself from further damage.

 I was indecisive about sharing my story to begin with, I was concerned that people would think less of me, that I wasn’t capable to do my job anymore or to be a good Mum. I’ve always been an active independent person, positive and as fearless as possible when it comes to living life and experiencing new things. But all of that was slowly stopped through exhaustion and my body and mind gradually giving up.

 I wanted to share my story because the process of how it happened to me can so easily happen to other people. When we ‘do’ life every day we lose sight of allowing ourselves some quiet time or stillness. I was doing what I thought to be ‘normal’ I’d worked hard for a responsible job as a department deputy at a College, I was caring for my father before and after work, I was trying to exercise regularly but pushing my body to extremes in a bid to ‘be fitter’, trying to be a good Mum, a loving partner, all of the normal life stuff. I think if you are a kind, giving and empathic person and you feel things deeply, you can so easily start to fall out of balance.

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When did you realise that “all those have too s” had become too much?

 Katie: Looking back the warning signs had started to show. I often felt overwhelmed and teary, I became so unusually exhausted, even though I had slept well the night before. I was suddenly suffering with headaches, skin rashes, blurred vision and neck and shoulder pain. I kept going to the G.P with health concerns – asking for bloods to be checked, my eyes to be tested, moles to be examined that I was worried had changed. I can see now that the health anxiety was part of the deterioration of my mind (it was giving me warning signals, but I was unfortunately ignoring them). My once vibrant mind through so much stress, worry and sadness was gradually becoming dark. All the negativity in my life was coming out as physical symptoms in my body. Unfortunately, I realise now that when we are ‘busy’ and when busy is our norm we all try to keep ‘going’ and we ignore the warning signals that we are becoming dangerously overwhelmed.

The final health problem was that I developed restless leg syndrome that later transformed into Myaclonis of the larger muscle groups (Muscle Spasms). As my anxiety took hold and with the ongoing fear of my new and very alien condition unfortunately I deteriorated. I was so terrified by what was happening to me that I developed severe insomnia, becoming afraid to go to sleep as a result. I couldn’t escape the night time body spasms and in the early hours of the morning, sleep deprived and alone I felt like a stranger in my own body.  It was the loneliest experience of my life. I had lost control of my mind and it didn’t matter what I did, I just couldn’t find my way back.

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What advice do you have for anyone else in that position?

Katie: Advice I now offer to friends and family or even strangers at Battery Rocks is that we need to slow down and listen to our bodies when we are tired or feeling overwhelmed. It can be harder to try to fix things once they have got as far as mine did. All in all, my recovery took about a year. It came about through a mix of regular yoga, seeing a sleep therapist, low dosage anti-depressants, and most importantly my regular morning sea swimming. Here I was able to find myself again and rebuild what the breakdown had taken from me. Through meeting new and inspiring people at Battery Rocks and feeling part of a swimming community, I was able to rebuild my confidence in my body, my sense of self, my courage and my belief in who I was as a person. All these things were just for ‘me’ and about ‘me’ and before I had become unwell that is exactly what I had been missing.

 Before I suffered at the hands of burnout I wasn’t doing anything solely just for myself that meant that I rested, experienced joy or took some quiet time simply to get some daily clarity. I was giving out regularly, but I wasn’t putting anything back. With so many elements of worry in my life my mind had understandably become fatigued and overloaded. I realise now that the brain behaves like a muscle, it can become weary and overworked just like any other muscle in the human body. To protect it we must anticipate that negativity and stress is bound to occur but if we have factored in our daily ‘me’ time and cared for ourselves first then we will be better equipped to deal with whatever daily chaos comes our way. Protection from burnout can be achieved by factoring in time every day that is just about ‘you’ and ‘your’ happiness or creativity. If warning signals are there already them it is vital that you take drastic steps to pull back from as much as you possibly can in a bid to try to regain some balance in your life. Even small gradual changes can make all the difference in terms of how severe the outcome can be.

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What does your swim community mean to you?

Katie: The Battery Rocks swimmers changed my life, they provided me with new friends, people to lean on and learn new things from, I felt inspired by the older swimmers (some 80 +) who got in every day all year round in swimming costumes. Through conversations I slowly learnt that many of these people had experienced their own struggles in life, it helped me to feel less alone, more supported, and it gave me confidence that I too could get better.

Please describe your relationship with the water?

Katie: The sea reminds me that there is something bigger than me, that there is a world out there full of mystery and beauty. It takes me away from worrying about insignificant things or things that I cannot change. When you are swimming you can only really think about swimming – it’s like a quiet underwater world where all the noise from land can’t reach you. It’s peaceful and still and even on choppy days you can feel like you soak up the positive energy from the water somehow. It is my time, my space to be me, there is no falseness, no pretence, just me, a free mind and the sea.

Overcoming anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, is a powerful journey, please describe how the sea helped bring back your confidence and how it influences your life on land.

Katie: With my breakdown/burnout I lost all confidence to do anything I had previously been doing. I felt like I couldn’t do my job, I wasn’t strong enough to exercise or see my friends, I felt scared and anxious about going out or enjoying time with my family – whilst my mind was recovering my confidence in living my life had been lost. Sea swimming every morning brought that feeling back, it made me feel proud of myself, I felt I had done something different, something extraordinary, and something most people feared doing. It made me feel brave and like I was capable again. It rebuilt my self-esteem and confidence in myself and in my own body’s physical and mental ability. For the first time since I was a child I felt like a real-life adventurer!

Have you always been a swimmer?

Katie: My father was a keen diver and loved being in the sea, as children he would take us to quiet Cornish pebble coves after a school and we would swim underwater to look at the crabs and long lines of sea kelp. As I got older I swam at school, but it slowly dwindled. I was never a front crawl swimmer I always just got in and would do breaststroke. As I got older I started pool swimming and found a love for front crawl, but I was always afraid of swimming front crawl in the sea. It wasn’t until I became unwell that I just ‘let go’ and thought how it can get any worse or any scarier than my current situation.  One beautiful morning at dawn, after yet another sleep deprived night and whilst out with my camera I met the Battery Rocks swimmers and slowly over time they gradually managed to coax me in and I have been swimming with them ever since.

Do you always swim without a wetsuit?

Katie: I have always swum without a wetsuit, I don’t feel like you have really been in if you have a wetsuit on. I like the feel of the cold rush of water and how it makes you feel so invigorated afterwards. You feel alive and reenergised after going into very cold sea water, like all has been washed away and I am brand new again.  In the winter I wear a thin neoprene body suit – it is the connection with the water that holds all of the magic.

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What do you think the future holds for you in terms of swimming?

 Katie: Swimming every morning has really changed life and my swimming ability. I used to panic a bit when I first started sea swimming and my breathing would suffer as a result but now I feel like I could swim forever! Someone once told me that once you get into a calm space and you relax then swimming should feel no harder than walking. I can completely agree with that now. My lung capacity has dramatically improved and I have so much more energy. I will sea swim until I physically can’t get in anymore. The sea has brought about so many incredible changes and opportunities in my life and I owe it so much more than just my recovery. The sea has become a part of my future now, part of my own healing but also part of my work. I would never be doing all the incredible work that I am doing now if it had not been for the Battery Rocks swimmers and the wonder of the sea.  We have so much to learn from the great outdoors, so much good can come from time spent within it, our minds are free to wander, to explore and to create. When we take real time each day for ourselves, just like the sea, anything is possible.

Favourite Swim Cake?

Katie: Something light with fruit.

Favourite piece of kit?

Katie: My favourite piece of swim kit is my wider lensed goggles from aquasphere. I like to be able to see as much as possible under the water, when we are finished swimming I often float around looking at all the starfish, crabs and if we are lucky some very friendly grey seals!

Thank you Jon and Katie: Out of the water A Lotus Rises #WSC

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A Swimming Symphony! A Call for Swimmers!

On 30th September 2018 at Plymouth Hoe from 12.30-1.30 ,swimmers and water lovers are invited to an interactive concert of swimming and music – aka The Immersive Orchestra, as part of the Atlantic Project and Plymouth Art Weekender.

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What is it?

The Immersive Orchestra is a collaborative performance between wild swimmers and amateur musicians. Devised by Shannon Watson and produced with Imperfect Orchestra, the performance is split into two main parts. Immersive Orchestra will see dozens of participants enter Plymouth Sound to swim at their leisure whilst being soundtracked by the Imperfect Orchestra’s ensemble of guitars. The wild swimmers will ‘conduct’ the performance of the 100 piece Guitar Orchestra, as their strokes in the water inform the pace of the music, and the number of swimmers effects playing dynamics. Both parts of the performance are open to the public to join in.

 

 

To register or find out more head to:

www.imperfectorchestra.com

Or email shannonleahwatsonart@gmail.com,

Or follow the event Facebook Page

The Immersive Orchestra -swimmers and musicians in action: Illustration by Katherine Hall

Who can join in?

Anyone who is a capable open water swimmer is invited to take part. Even those who do not feel confident swimming in open water are invited to join in, by splashing and paddling on the shoreline. You can register via the website.

Take a seat

About Shannon Watson 

Shannon Watson is an artist and recent graduate from Plymouth College of Art using her work as a platform to encourage discussions around wild swimming. The result of this is often performative. From swimming lessons at the Tate, to a collaborative project with Imperfect Orchestra, the relationship between swimmer and water is explored throughout her work. Through the recent introduction of digital software, her interactive installation (Immersive Musician), explored escapism through wild swimming and music. Here the installation takes on the space of a stage; as viewers interact with the work, they become both a swimmer and composer of their own soundtrack.

These ideas of performance and escapism have been developed into a live performance in collaboration with Devon wild swimmers and Imperfect Orchestra to be shown as part of Atlantic Festival, and Plymouth Art Weekender Plymouth. This performance titled Immersive Orchestra, is a culmination of Shannon’s past couple of years spent with various wild swimmers learning more about their experiences and how swimming has helped them. Immersive Orchestra initially took inspiration from a local Plymouth swimmer, Kathy, as she recalled fond memories of her younger years spent on Plymouth Hoe dancing to live music and swimming. Kathy is still a regular swimmer throughout the year and Shannon wanted to create an opportunity for people to enjoy both music and swimming on the Hoe again.

A Lotus Rises #womensswimmingcollective #wsc

 

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