A KEEN swimmer who has swum in the Stour Estuary every day since the Covid-19 pandemic began has praised the wonders the water has had on her health.

Kellie Rogers, who lives in Manningtree, has braved the water in all conditions since March last year ... including snow.

It’s a habit which quickly became an addiction for the mother-of-two, and one which saw her even take take on the water at 8am on Christmas Day.

The 44-year-old wanted to keep active when gyms first closed and saw the river on her doorstep as an opportunity to exercise and experience nature.

She explained how it then became her mission to see how long she could carry on the daily swims, and to explore the boundaries of her potential.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Kellie RogersKellie Rogers

Kellie said: “I didn’t really tell people I was going to do it, I just sort of, well, did it.

“My family know I’m a bit crazy anyway, I just love to explore different things.

“People would be walking on the beach and they were intrigued, they wanted to know what I was doing. Many would talk to me and ask about it. Some found it inspiring and wanted to get involved.”

Kellie is a meditation well-being practitioner and doula and she runs Harmony Tree in Manningtree.

She credited her meditation and mindfulness practices for giving her the mental strength to brave the water, no matter the conditions.

It was also a welcome relief from the everyday worries and uncertainty generated by the pandemic.

She added: “For me it is a practice of meditation. You get in and your head tells you to get out - relax the breath and let go of the mind and simply surrender to the experience - it’s a practice and mastery.

“I enjoy supporting others and guiding them into the water gracefully. The small community of swimmers which has formed has created a safe place for people to explore cold water swimming and it’s been such a joy.

“I get in, slow my breathing down, be still in myself and witness how my body adjusts to the conditions - it’s a mental practice to observe.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Kellie has inspired a community to get involvedKellie has inspired a community to get involved

“It has given me a focus every day and created purpose to my days. It got me out and has done wonders for my health.

“Other people watching must think I’m nuts, but I had a bad back and now this is healed.

“It’s become quite addictive, you get an influx of endorphins and when I arrive at the beach I get excited.

“The experience is so empowering, you are mastering your mind by getting into the cold water and then by remaining in it.

“It makes you feel good and happy, two things we’ve all needed this past year.”

Kellie’s activities have inspired others to get involved and from what started as a solo activity has now been able to flourish following lockdown restrictions easing.

As they were lifted last year, many others joined her for a dip and, while restrictions were once again in place from the end of last year, a group chat has continued to support the new-found community.

It's been a “magical” experience for Kellie.

She added: “The beautiful element which has come from this, the magic of it, is that it has grown into a wonderful community.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: The cold water has cured Kellie's back painThe cold water has cured Kellie's back pain

“It began as a personal mission for me and I loved it, but people have been coming together, when restrictions have permitted, to help each other throughout lockdown.

“They have shared how much it has helped them. It wasn’t my initial intention at all but it has flourished into a quite beautiful experience.

“Swimming on the beach is free and it’s on our doorsteps here in Manningtree.

“There’s a whole other dimension of exercise and mental wellbeing out there for people who wish to access it.

“I can’t stress enough how great the mental health benefits are, as well as the physical ones too.

“I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have loved every second of it.”