A couple of times a week, all winter long, Natasha Wynn braved the elements — the pebbly beach, the icy sea — to go for a swim.
Cold-water swimming has become part of her new routine since she moved from east London to East Sussex; in winter, she admits, it is a bit of an ordeal but in summer it is an almost-daily joy.
Natasha, now 37, had moved to London to study for a degree in dance when she was 18 and had built a career as a personal trainer and running fitness classes. When the pandemic began her job, working with people with long-term health conditions, moved online.
At around the same time she split with her boyfriend, who she was living with in a circa £1,200pcm one-bedroom flat in Bromley-by-Bow, which meant she had to rethink her living arrangements.
“In the past I had always had jobs or boyfriends to keep me in London,” she said. “But things change, and moving out of London became a no-brainer.”
Natasha had always longed to live by the sea, somewhere smaller and less polluted than London, and in late 2021 she began researching her options.
“A day trip to Brighton convinced her that it was the right choice, and in May 2022 she moved into a one-bedroom flat in Brunswick Town, between Brighton and Hove. Her rent is £975pcm, and she is around five minutes’ walk from the sea.
Over the past year her life has changed in many ways. Before she moved Natasha joined a local sea swimming group and has made some good friends through that. “It is not easy in the winter, but afterwards you feel really refreshed, and like you have achieved something.”
She also joined a choir, walks everywhere, and, on the recommendation of a swimming friend, the Brighton Girl Network, a Facebook group, and has made friends through that. “I moved down knowing nobody, so I have had to be brave and push myself out of my comfort zone,” she said.
As well as continuing with her day job Natasha has also had time to work on her side hustle, as a photographer (natashawynnphotography.com), and she travels to London most weeks to visit friends and do some in-person personal training sessions.
A surprising outcome of her move is that Natasha feels that the fresh air, cold water, and calmer pace of life has improved a long term health condition, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes symptoms including joint pain and fatigue.
“I’ve found since moving that I get fewer flare ups,” said Natasha. So alongside just generally being much happier by the sea, my health has improved too.”
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