From wild swimming to wellbeing support

Winnie Poaty
Winnie Poaty lives in Windermere with her daughters, Hannah, 17, and Melissa, 21. She grew up in the Republic of Congo where swimming in the sea was off limits for safety reasons. But after moving to the Lake District in 2006, she discovered Windermere.

Winnie told us: “I would sit on the pier with the girls eating fish and chips and see other people jumping in and we couldn’t do it. You see mums from school in the lake with their kids. I wanted that for me and my girls.”

So the family learned to swim. “Honestly it changed my life,” she says. “I swim a minimum of three times a week. Always in the lake. I’m an all-year-round swimmer. In wintertime when it gets cold, I have ditched the wet suit. It's part of my life now.”

Winnie says cold water swimming helps her manage her mental health. “It transformed my mindset,” she says. “When I’m in the water nothing else exists. The pain goes away. It’s one of the best escapes I can tell for anybody struggling. I don’t think I will ever be depression free, but I know what works.”

Winnie now posts on Instagram about wild swimming and has had several TV appearances including
introducing Strictly Come Dancing judges Bruno Tonioli and Craig Revel Horwood to the water.

“I have set up Win Outdoor Foundation,” she says. “My hope is to get a diverse outdoors. I want to
help and spread the word. With the mental health side, I just want people to try it.”

We’re inspired by Winnie’s approach – managing her own mental health whilst striving to support and encourage others too. A brilliant example of kindness in action.

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