Finding Joy & Playfulness in the Water

By Bea Marshall

When I met my second, and current husband, we intended to just be friends. We went on a ‘not’ date which failed miserably because we have been inseparable ever since. What nailed it was the fact that I laughed more in that one evening than I did in the entirety of my previous twelve-year marriage. I tell you this because it opened my eyes to how much joy was missing from my life. I’d lost sight of play and adventure and laughter.

That ‘not’ date was just over eight years ago and since then my life has become abundant with laughter, joy, play and adventure. In recent years I have discovered the freedom, joy and medicine that awaits me in nature. Cold water swimming specifically.

When I immerse my naked body in cold water I become one with nature. The enveloping experience brings me everywhere and nowhere all at once. Depending on the location, the temperature and my mood; a swim for me might be a quiet contemplation during which I close my eyes and feel the sensations of my body moving through the water while the sun warms my face. Or it might be a springboard for whoops of joy and relishing the child-like freedom the water inspires.

In the water my body feels different – closer to weightlessness than its earth-bound, gravity-induced density. I can twist and turn, spin and surge, flap and float (or attempt to float at least). I embrace the freedom the water gives my body so that my limbs can spread out and push or pull with effort or ease.

And every time I enter natural water I surrender to the multitude of physical sensations that dominate my experience. This is a playful part of cold water swimming for me. I get to employ my creativity to describe how the water feels against my skin. Is it so cold that the water draws across my flesh like sharp knives or is it the tingle of a thousand ants nipping at my body? Is my whole body affected or just my limbs? Oh! It’s my upper arms and chest – that’s interesting! And some water feels silky as my whole being glides through its expanse; while other water provides resistance that every stroke cuts through as if carving up the reservoir into manageable pieces.

I have never walked away from a cold water swim wishing I hadn’t gone in.

This year, for the first time, my husband joined me in the water. His playful spirit, which captured my heart on our ‘not’ date, was the resource he drew upon to help him past his fears and resistance to the cold water. Several times I thought he was going to turn around and get out but he didn’t. He suddenly switched from fear and doubt to an all-embracing adventurer. After his initial acclimatisation to the temperature and the sensations, a childlike grin took over his face. Swimming together was its own form of joyful intimacy. Something that was definitely worth waiting for.

Bea Marshall is an Energy Therapist and Healer who helps her clients heal from the trauma that is holding them back in their parenting, their relationships and life in general. Bea is proudly neurodivergent and helps women who are exploring their neurodiversity to move from struggle to thriving. Find Bea at

For water immersion experiences check out the WanderWomen Events page.

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