When self-proclaimed mountain lover Brooke was told she couldn’t hike for a while, living in Sydney, she thought she’d have no choice but to say goodbye to her adventure fix. But then she set herself the challenge to wild swim every day for a month. She discovered the joy, ease, and mental health benefits of the water and hasn’t looked back since. Will you?

31st August 2021

The water looks like silken oil, as black as coal with the full moon reflecting on its rippling surface. I’m the only person here. The silence is bliss and I walk slowly down the moss-covered steps into the water. 

It’s not as cold as I thought it would be and my body adapts quickly. I take a deep breath and dive down, my hands grazing the bottom of the pool, air expelling from my lungs as I rise slowly back to the surface. 

Laying on my back, I float peacefully. My mind empties and I focus on nothing except the sound of the waves gently lapping against the rocks. When I open my eyes, I see the bright pinpricks of stars fighting their way through the darkness above me. 

It’s the final swim of my ‘dip a day’ challenge, a challenge I set myself throughout the 31 days of August to make sure I injected a dose of adventure into each and every day.

While my little challenge may be over, I’m pretty sure that my love affair with the water is only just beginning.

A Wild Swimming Winter

To me, adventure and nature are as vital as air. I usually hike, but in mid-2021 I was on the road to recovery from a torn ankle ligament, so hiking was out of the question. 

Instead, swimming in the ocean pools of Maroubra and Malabar in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs became my solace. 

For the month of August, every day without fail, I immersed myself in the cold water and felt the stresses of the day — quite literally — wash away.  


Some days I swam properly, my arms powering through the water, quickly warming my limbs despite the frigid temperature. Other times it was a quick dip, the biting cold too much for even my hardy British constitution. Some days, I wish I’d set the challenge in summer, when the warmer waters envelop your body like a hug, rather than a scream. 

But my favourite swims were the ones where my body succumbed to the cold, and I lay on my back floating, my eyes closed, breathing deeply. I felt like I could stay like that for hours. My aching body at one with the water. My busy mind, still, finally. I was rejuvenated, in every sense of the word.



It’s strange to think that at the time, the world had shrunk to a 5km radius. But in those pools, the world was whatever I wanted it to be. I could explore in my own mind; the soothing effects of the water helped me reach an almost meditative state. Or, I could simply dive down and explore the underwater world beneath me. 

Every pool has its own unique ecosystem waiting to be discovered. Every tiny shell, every slither of emerald moss, every sharp piece of coral holds its own story. I never tire of the watery world below the surface. 

Despite visiting the same pools every day, they were always different. Some days, the waves of Mahon Pool in Maroubra were so wild, they made a swim almost impossible. On other days, the water was so still, it looked like a perfectly polished sheet of glass.

I started my challenge by swimming in the mornings before work or squeezing in a dip on my lunch breaks. But some days — when the time disappeared through my fingers like sand — I found myself swimming under the cloak of darkness. 

These times quickly became my favourite. While the rest of the suburb was home, heating up, tea in hand, I was there, floating in the darkness and silence. I had my own private adventure playground with nothing but nature’s fairy lights twinkling above me. 

I’ve always loved the ocean pools in Sydney. They’re one of the many things that make nature feel so accessible here, even within the confines of a city filled with skyscrapers and egos.

This challenge showed me just how lucky we are to have them. And not just the pools, but the oceans and rivers too. There are even underwater snorkel trails, all within the city limits.

Back to The Mountains – But Wild Swimming Comes Too!

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I set myself my wild swim challenge. A lot has changed since then and the world is once again, our oyster.

I’ve also left Sydney behind and now call the Blue Mountains home. Although I miss the ocean pools, the feeling of sand beneath my toes, and the taste of salt drying on my lips, I have it pretty good here too.



I’m just 1.5 hours from where I used to live, but it feels like another world altogether. I’ve replaced the salty ocean with freshwater waterfalls, swimming holes, and rivers. I’ve tried to swim weekly, but I’m only just scratching the surface of the water-wonderland that surrounds me. 

I’ve plunged into the inky waters of canyons. I’ve sat in natural pools on the edge of towering waterfalls. I’ve even jumped fully clothed into a sand-fringed river deep in the rainforest simply because it looked too good to resist.


Photo by Filippo Rivetti


Each time, I’m amazed at how I feel. As soon as the water hits my skin, I feel an almost instantaneous increase in alertness and energy.

I’m curious…is it just me? I’ve done a lot of research into the benefits of wild swimming, particularly in cold water, and it turns out that it truly is nature’s medicine. Wild swimming can help with muscle soreness and recovery, boost the immune system, improve circulation, and help manage anxiety, stress, and depression

My wild swimming challenge was borne from the frustration of lockdowns and injuries. But I’ll be forever grateful because from that frustration came a life-long love of wild swimming. And I reckon, if you give it a try, you’ll love it too. 


Photos thanks to Destination NSW