We are delighted to announce that Louise Minchin will be joining this year's Arla Great North Swim.  An author and former BBC Breakfast presenter, Louise is also a passionate triathlete and swimmer.

Louise will be taking part in our 2-mile swim on Friday, 7 June, and our middle distance SwimRun on Saturday, 8 June. Louise will also come to our SwimFest stage on Saturday afternoon to talk about her book ‘Fearless', celebrating 17 stories of trailblazing women who are breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes through their strength, power, and determination.
Louise Minchin, said: “I'm so excited to come to the Lake District and be part of the Arla Great North Swim weekend. This event is something I've been wanting to do for ages and I can't wait to join all the swimmers.” 

Shakeout Swim Inspiring Stories 

On Friday, 22 March a number of inspiring participants of the Arla Great North Swim came together at Brockhole on Windermere for a start of spring shakeout swim and to highlight the ‘Every Body Swim' campaign of this year's event, which focuses on the inclusivity of swimming and how everyone can enjoy the feeling of freedom that the water gives us.

We were joined on Friday by a selection of inspiring people taking part in this year's Great North Swim weekend, including:

Thao Nunns - Outdoor adventurer, sharing her love for swimming in the Lake District,.Thao will be swimming the 1 mile distance at the Arla Great North Swim this June.

“I've been swimming for a few years now. It first started as I have endometriosis and a lot of pain with that, and a friend recommended a cold water swim to see how it might help. 

“I feel alive, pain free and such freedom when I am in the open water. It's escape from the mad world, you can relax your mind - it's you, the water, the birds singing, and the scenery. 

“I encourage everyone to try the Arla Great North Swim. I could not swim far before, but I assure you it's not competitive, it's a massive community and everyone is supporting you. Try out your ability, the atmosphere is amazing.” 

Dr. Hussain Al-Zubaidi – TV's popular Lifestyle Doctor, said ““This is my fourth year in a row doing the Arla Great North Swim and I always look forward to meeting other likeminded people that love swimming, and witnessing the joy they get from it. 

“I've gained so much from swimming for my health and wellbeing, in particular my mental health, and I wanted to try to translate that to these patients I'm seeing and help patients with long term physical or mental conditions to access the benefits of swimming. 

“At our local pool we've been given an hour slot each week to access the benefits of swimming, and we worked alongside Swim England and Mental Health Swims to make that possible.” Read more from Dr. Hussain Al-Zubaidi on the attached. 

Rhianon Gale, 44, from Poulton-le-Fylde
“I have Ehlers danlos syndrome - hypermobility type, fibromyalgia and other related conditions, and I am also dealing with trauma following the deaths of both my parents and my brother within 15 months. My brother died in very traumatic circumstances, and I took up swimming again in a big way about a year ago to help me cope with the trauma and to manage my pain from dislocating joints and fibromyalgia. 

“I relearned front crawl in a lake in Bristol last summer and have been trying to improve on it ever since. I have never swam in an organised swimming event and I thought it would be a good personal challenge to sign up for the Arla Great North Swim. 

“I'm taking on the 850-metre distance, and I am aiming to swim most of it front crawl which will be a huge achievement for me, especially as my shoulder dislocates a lot!

“I love the joy open water swimming brings, the peace, and pain relief I get from it. “The community is wonderful. Having moved to an area where I know no one, it has been easy to meet people and start to make friends through meeting up with other outdoor swimmers.  Read more from Rhianon Gale on the attached.

Vickie Orton, 55, from Otley 
“I am a wheelchair user as I have multiple sclerosis (MS), but before I became a wheelchair user I was an avid hill walker. I really miss walking with a passion and have found it hard to deal with. 

“Open water swimming is a way for me to be out in nature and experience it in a similar way to walking. I can go at my own pace and get the same peace and relaxation from being in nature that I did when walking. I have also made some great friends without whom I would struggle to get into and out of the water.

“I swam the Otley mile with friends for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. Friends had talked about the Great North Swim and I liked the sound of that challenge, swimming in a new place and different environment. This will be my first time taking part and I'll travel about two hours to get there, I'm going to swim the 1 mile distance.” 

Bill Moore, 86, from Wakefield 
“I will be 87 when I swim the Great North Swim in June. I will continue to swim for as long as I am able.

"I have been taking part in the Great North Swim for over 15 years. This year I'm swimming the 1 mile distance with my 62-year-old son. I swim three times a week and do around 6,000 metres per week. 

“I take a lot of pleasure from open water swimming as it gives me a sense of freedom.

“As we become older it is vital that we continue to exercise - our health is the most important thing that we have so we must keep exercising - I have been swimming competitively for almost 40 years and it is a very important part of my life.”

Dr. Shanaz Hussan
“My advice for anyone trying open water swimming is to stay calm, it can be very different to the pool, be mindful of your surroundings, focus on your breathing.

“I'm a Psychiatrist and I work in mental health, with a special interest in adult ADHD and we know exercise, including swimming, is beneficial for our mental health, which releases endorphins and happy hormones and that can be beneficial for depression, anxiety, and beneficial to people with ADHD. The calming environment is helpful for people with sensory overload.

“I had the best time at the Arla Great North Swim last year and I can't wait to experience it again this year. The environment was fantastic, it was so well organised and of course swimming in the beautiful Lake Windermere.”

Mark Shayler, 56, Leicestershire 
“I live in Leicestershire and I'm travelling three hours to take part, swimming has changed me, that's why I've signed up to do the Great North Swim for the first time. 
“I've signed up to do the 1-mile distance this year. 

“I swim all year. Once or twice a week outside in the winter. Four times a week in the summer. I swim in a pool every Monday night with the most brilliant instructor. It has given me a place to meditate, a place to find myself and a place to lose myself. I love entering the water and feeling all the heat leave my body, diving under and listening to the muffling of the world above, holding my breath until my lungs sing, coming up and breathing-in again as if for the first time as all my senses come back to life.”

Alice Peyredieu, Great North Swim, Brand Manager said: “It's amazing to highlight here some of the inspiring stories of our swimmers of this year's Great North Swim through our campaign ‘Every Body Swim.' We know it can be intimidating to start open water swimming, especially if you don't see yourself represented in that space. We want to use our platform to showcase that swimming is for everyone and that all swimmers should be celebrated. At Friday's shakeout swim launch, we were proud to see a variety of ages and physical abilities turn up to help us launch and celebrate open water swimming and to all get excited for this summer's Great North Swim weekend.”

Laura Butler, Senior Brand Manager for Arla LactoFREE, adds: “The Great North Swim is a truly inspirational event, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to take on their own personal open water challenges, to improve or enhance their health.
“At Arla we're committed to providing natural, nutritious dairy that is made in the best possible way, and we're looking forward to supporting swimmers throughout their training and during their Arla Great North Swim experience, as we head into our second year of sponsorship.”

There is still time to take part in this year's Great North Swim. Find out more and sign up here.