Return to blog

Breaking Barriers & Discovering Open Water Therapy with The Wanderlust Women

Posted by Lydia Burdett

We caught up with The Wanderlust Women as they took to the water for an introduction to the world of open-water therapy. Discover how the trailblazing group of like-minded ladies is paving the way for Muslim women in the great outdoors by embarking on adventures that break down barriers and inspire a sense of sisterhood...

Words by Amira Patel, Founder of The Wanderlust Women

Photo Credit: Maryia Tabassum and Rachel Sarah Ross

Film by Award-Winning Filmmaker, Rachel Sarah Ross

I am beyond grateful to have been able to host the first-ever wild swimming event with The Wanderlust Women (TWW), breaking barriers and discovering the power of open water therapy. My name is Amira, and I am the founder of TWW, a hiking and adventure group for Muslim women. Our mission is to provide a unique opportunity for Muslim women to connect with fellow adventurers, explore new destinations, and discover their inner strength. We focus on self-discovery, healing, and connecting to faith on a deeper level. In our latest adventure, we delved into the world of open-water therapy.

The Power Of Sisterhood

 One of the main barriers I faced as a Muslim woman was the lack of representation in swimming, modest wear and privacy for Muslim women. However, witnessing the exhilaration and support among the Muslim women in our group during our wild swimming event was truly a special moment. It highlighted the power of sisterhood, community, and the incredible influence of nature. This event was just the beginning of our journey.

Swimming is a popular recreational activity that offers numerous health benefits. However, for Muslim women who choose to wear modest attire such as hijabs and niqabs, participating in swimming events or even engaging in swimming as a regular exercise can be incredibly challenging. One major obstacle faced by Muslim women in swimming is the lack of suitable modest wear options available in the market. While there has been a growing demand for modest swimwear, the choices are still limited, making it difficult for Muslim women to find appropriate attire that aligns with their religious beliefs and cultural practices.

Breaking Down Barriers

Furthermore, the absence of representation for Muslim women in swimming events or media exacerbates the feeling of isolation. Not seeing people who look like you or share similar experiences can be disheartening and discouraging. Muslim women often find themselves longing for relatable role models who challenge the status quo and inspire others to overcome barriers. When Muslim women don their hijabs and niqabs in a swimming environment, they inevitably stand out from the crowd. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity and this is how I felt which led me to stop swimming. Despite these challenges, the aim is to create an inclusive and empowering space for Muslim women in swimming. Such events provide a platform where women can showcase their skills and passion for swimming while wearing their hijabs, niqabs, and modest wear. Participating in these events not only helps break down barriers but also fosters a sense of community and support, and this is exactly what we did, everyone was smiling and laughing and there were so many moments of joy.

My Journey Into Open Water Swimming

As a young swimmer, I never saw anyone who looked like me. However, my mother introduced me to swimming at a very young age and encouraged our community to start swimming. She even helped set up a ladies-only swimming session. This is where my journey into swimming began. While I had swum in open water before during holidays, I had never experienced the thrill of cold-water open swimming until two years ago. 

I met some friends on Instagram who introduced me to wild swimming in the UK during winter. It was an unforgettable experience that came at a time when I was going through a rough patch in my life and struggling with my mental health. The impact it had on me was indescribable. I was instantly hooked and started making trips to the Lake District just so I could immerse myself in the water. The feeling of flow and connection was profound, bringing me spiritual calm and relief.

Embracing The Wild: An Unforgettable Day With The Wanderlust Women

The wild swimming event brought together women from all corners, allowing us to explore the wonders of nature and water. It was an introduction to the world of wild swimming, where we engaged in mindfulness exercises, invigorating breathing sessions, and shared insightful talks and films. Led by our amazing guides, Gilly MCArthur and Vicki McCreadie from Wonderful Wild Women, we fearlessly dove into the chilly waters, unlocking the boundless mental health benefits that the blue space provides. It was a truly beautiful day, connecting with nature and each other, and discovering the incredible power of wild swimming.

The Wanderlust Women's wild swimming event was a transformative experience for all involved. It broke barriers, brought a sense of support and community, and allowed us to tap into the healing powers of open-water therapy. As we continue our journey, we look forward to exploring more destinations, connecting with fellow adventurers, and discovering our inner strength. It is essential for society to recognize the importance of representation and provide support to ensure that all individuals, regardless of their cultural or religious background, feel welcome in the world of swimming. 

Follow The Wanderlust Women on Instagram @the.wanderlust.women for more inspiring adventures. 

Words by Amira Patel, Founder of The Wanderlust Women

Photo Credit: Maryia Tabassum and Rachel Sarah Ross

Film by Award-Winning Filmmaker, Rachel Sarah Ross