Introducing cold water swimmer, adventurer and Weleda Arnica Ambassador, Lindsey Cole
Lindsey is a cold-water swimmer, adventurer, environmentalist, writer and speaker. Whether she’s swimming the River Thames, highlighting the plastic pollution in our British waterways, cycling the length of Africa to watch the World Cup, or retracing an incredible journey along Australia's Rabbit Proof Fence, Lindsey is passionate about exploring our magnificent planet in the most adventurous and sustainable way. With a background in journalism and documentary making, topped with a lust for travel and wandering, she particularly loves journeys that have a story.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello, I’m Lindsey, I’ve always been nomadic, but I’ve been living in Bristol for the past ten months which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere for fifteen years. I’m quite excited to put some roots down. I’ve travelled a lot and seen some incredible places, which has made me want to give back and look after the environment. I’m currently writing a children’s book about the time I rescued a cow whilst I was swimming the River Thames for an environmental campaign. I’m also writing a book for older kids about walking across Australia. Sitting down is the hardest for me. I’m better at taking a wander, with my bike or just with a pair of shoes. I especially love being in the wild on my own. I do have a bad habit of setting off for a journey and accidentally extending. I’m very frugal, and love living out adventures I’ve conjured up on tiny budgets or nothing at all. I love meeting others on my journeys, but love venturing alone too.
What inspired you to start adventuring?
I signed up for the London Triathlon after I was struggling to deal with grief after suddenly losing my dad whilst I was travelling in 2007. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 12 and really struggled with the hills. When I crossed the finish line I felt euphoric and immediately signed up to cycle to Paris. Then I cycled the length of Britain and the next year I scaled the African continent by bike. Adventures became quite addictive and when ideas popped into my head I knew I could give them a go. I freelanced in television, and in between jobs I squeezed in an adventure. Suddenly, the adventures started getting bigger and the work became less, and I was able to make a career out my adventures.
What has been your best adventure to date?
Walking the Rabbit Proof Fence has been by far my favourite adventure. I read the book just before my dad died and I think due to the proximity of timing, I always drew inspiration from the young aboriginal girls in the book. Whenever I struggled with life I always thought about what they endured. So, in 2016 I finally plucked up the courage to return to Australia, where I had been travelling when I found out my dad died, and I retraced their journey. Molly’s daughter joined me for the last 10km and put me up in Jigalong. And I met Daisy, who in 1931, made the journey herself. She sadly died two years later, so I was very fortunate to meet her.
Have you always been sporty?
I grew up as a competitive swimmer, albeit I wasn’t very competitive, and I enjoyed athletics and netball. After school I wasn’t very good at committing to team sports because I never knew where I would be. Whereas with endurance running, swimming or cycling, I’m able to go whenever I want, and I find it meditative.
What drew you to cold-water swimming in particular, and why are you so passionate for us all to experience it?
I’ve always been a swimmer. But after I cut my hand on a piece of plastic whilst swimming in Bali, I decided to swim the River Thames as a mermaid to raise awareness about the plastic pandemic. As well as finding tonnes of plastic pollution I also discovered the outdoor swimming community, which was wonderful. People around the country messaged support and invited me to swim and stay with them. So, I went on a bike tour of Britain and took them up on their offers. It was meant to be a two-week jaunt but I ended up extending it to six months, because it was so wonderful. Cold-water swimming has many benefits both for our mental and physical health. It’s exhilarating and makes me feel alive. There are also so many wonderful welcoming people who do it all across the country. It’s the community that I was always looking for.
Are you prone to any particular injuries – are there any occupational hazards? How do you try to prevent/treat these?
I’m quite lucky that I’m not prone to injuries, which is one of the wonders of swimming unlike other sports. Whatever I do, I tend to do slowly. I travel far but take my time, so it’s not too stressful for the body. I do, sometimes, however get a stiff back. I’ve had it since I was a kid, which swimming helped with. But, I also love to soak in the bath with some lovely Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk or Arnica Muscle Soak.
When did you first discover Weleda?
I discovered Weleda when I got into swimming outside, because my skin is sensitive and often takes a battering in the elements. A friend recommended the brand to me.
How do you protect your skin when you are swimming outdoors in all temperatures?
I have really sensitive skin, which suffers badly in cold weather and wind. So I smother my face with Skin Food, before and after a swim. I keep a tube in my pocket and rub it in my hands before applying to my face, so my hands get nicely moisturised too. I also use Skin Food Lip Balm before getting in the water or setting off for a bike ride. I hate getting chapped lips, so it's a real skincare saviour. If I’ve been cold water swimming, in the evening before getting into bed I slather myself in Skin Food Body Butter. It smells utterly delicious too and sends me off into a blissful sleep.
Do you have any little daily mantra you use or live by?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”
Quick Fire Quiz
Favourite colour? Yellow and green
Current book you’re reading? I tend to read quite a few at the same time. I’m currently going between Kerry Hudson’s ‘Lowborn’, Bruce Chatwin’s ‘The Songlines’ and Nora Ephron’s ‘Heartburn’
Top tracks you listen to? I like to listen to Radio 6
Food craving? My mum’s spaghetti Bolognese
Spectator sport? Football, rugby, cricket, athletics
Particular hobbies? Swimming, art, photography, watching documentaries and reading
Birthday treat? I hate celebrating my birthday. It’s in the middle of January and it’s cold and miserable. Although, since I’ve got into cold-water swimming there is that bonus!
Best holiday ever? It was a longer holiday than the usual, but walking Australia’s Rabbit Proof Fence.
Guilty pleasure? Watching dog videos online.
All-time Weleda favourite? Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk