Touring SWIM and blogging swims
Sun 10 Apr

Touring SWIM and blogging swims

If you are a keen outdoor swimmer and live near to any of the tour locations, would like to swim with Liz or show her your favourite swim spot, then she’d love to hear from you!  Contact her www.lrproductions.co.uk

SWIM the Tour Map…

If you missed the post show discussion but would like to hear it, we recorded a video to share with you. It gives you a great insight into Liz’s performance, the show that is SWIM, Liz’s passion for swimming and how others felt about the show. 

Post Show Discussion with SWIM

Friday 29th April…

I was so chuffed when I realised an old acting school friend had moved to the area in Cornwall I’m in, working with my producer’s husband at the uni.

So we arranged to meet early in the morning at Swanpool. I recognised Matt a mile off, happily sat watching out to sea in his wetsuit. We haven’t seen each other in about 15 years or so I reckon, Matt now sporting a beard.

We were straight in, the calmest I’ve seen the sea since being here.

A lady swam over to tell me she’d seen the show yesterday and how much she’d enjoyed that and the swim after. She said she was the only one in a wetsuit but Matt agreed with me “so what?!” Do what you gotta do! She’s happy, Matt was happy bobbing around with me. And we had a good old natter in the water. The job is working out well, he’s bought a house over here and now to move his family here to join him. Hard to be away from your family but I just know they’re going to love this new adventure when they’re all reunited.

It’s such a wonderful place, Cornwall obviously, but I really like Falmouth and the surrounding area, I think there’s a real mix of people and things going on and a great arts scene and culture.

Definitely coming back.

Matt and I caught up all things acting school days as we sat with our hot drinks and porridge outside the beach cafe. Needed that time to also switch off before heading out of our accommodation and onto our last show tonight in Bodmin.

So that’s the end of my daily swimming on tour FOR NOW!

We’re back with the show for a week in a couple of weeks time, so I’m looking forward to meeting more swimmers then. If you live in the area of Exeter/Plymouth do get in touch (and book for the show!). Over and out.

Thursday 28th April…

It’s hard to sum up the feeling of my swim this evening.

Following an evening’s performance at Trebah Gardens to a very full house, mostly dressed in Dryrobes 😆 , I invited the audience to come and swim with me down on the private beach. It was like watching a trail of ants as all these (mostly women) folk walked down the garden path to the sea. Over 150 people stripped off on the pebbles and then suddenly 2 seals bobbed their heads out right near the shore to see what all the commotion was! And then we all got in! And the seals hung around for a bit too.

And there was crying and laughing and squeals of delight as we all bobbed around together.

There was this constant stream of swimmers who swam over to me and shared in their stories- similar stories of tragedy and loss, like the show, but a feeling of release having watched the show and then swam. It was absolutely electric. I was in the sea for quite a long time and was already cold when getting in, having performed outside, but as I shook and tried to warm myself, I was surrounded by women telling me more stories and buying the Charlie bobble hat, and asking for autographs (😆) but it was wonderful and warming.

Claire, who had already been in touch prior to the show had asked to swim together so she introduced herself and we attempted to have a conversation about why she swims (there were a lot of giddy women chatting to us), but I did pick up from Claire how she’d started swimming only a few years ago and her and her friend/colleague set themselves a sea challenge- swimming around St Micheal’s Mount, which they completed. Claire’s friend Helen commented how she liked the line in the show which says “this water isn’t mine”.

Helen said that resonated as often you can feel like it is your water as you love and need it so much.

That’s the biggest thing that I’ll take from all of these swims with people around the various locations I’ve been to: there’s a commonality amongst us all and that is the water, and we share in that; we’re not alone nor should we keep it to ourselves.

A memory I will never ever forget today.

Wednesday 27th April…

Today I swam with my assistant director Diana, who has joined us for our rural tour of Cornwall.

There were tears, I’m sure she won’t mind me saying. Tears from carrying so much for so long. A tiredness about her. After big hugs, we stripped off on the blustery bright beach of Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth and ran into the wild turquoise waves. The surfers were out on force, which was a reminder to not go out too far! We jumped around in glee as the waves tossed us around. Feet mainly on the ground- too hard to swim. But heads under. Diana grinning her beautiful grin.

We sat on the beach after dressing, warming quickly but despite the joy of playing with the water Diana still had a sadness to her.

We talked about how she got into swimming when she first moved as a child to the UK from Kenya. How that in itself was very difficult for her as she wasn’t given a choice by her mum. Diana misses the farm, the goats, the countryside she grew up in. When she first moved here, she moved to London. She has fond memories of learning to swim after school, and a neighbour picking her up to take her to extra lessons and then over time she lost this involvement in her swimming and drifted.

After a very difficult break up from a relationship, Diana took herself off to a foreign country to stir change in her. She got a job as a receptionist in a hotel in Cyprus and found the water again (albeit much warmer than our waters!) Diana found the sea helped her heal, each day taking a dip. She ‘popped’ back for Christmas and New Years to see her mum who had now moved to the north, and intending to head back to Cyprus, plans were scuppered by the pandemic. Diana took up roots in this northern town, and it’s been hard at times but she feels she is making choices and plans for her own life again.

Diana loves the world of theatre and wants a career in it. It’s been an eye-opener, she tells me, watching the ins and outs of touring theatres. Hard, she says, but she’s still hungry for it.

Diana doesn’t really live near any large bodies of water at the moment, but I could tell she was reminded by the sea of how she likes giving it over to the sea, commenting “I think I needed that more than you!”. Absolutely. These swims with people are about why they need it.

Thank you sea for holding Diana today.

Tuesday 26th April…

The adventures continue! As I am located now by the Minack, I have the sea on my doorstep.

I randomly started talking to a chap who called himself Badger, dressed in a Dryrobe we talked swimming, in a cafe. My producer got him along to the see the show that evening and then this morning I organised meeting Badger for swim on Porthcurno.

Beautiful morning, glistening sea and fresh breeze.

I honestly don’t think I can remember everything that Badger has done with his life! It is endless. He started off a builder, then joined the Army, serving all over but being injured and suffering PTSD he retired and became a stone mason and was a trucky too, he’s served time in prison (said he learned the world in there) had kids, who he sadly doesn’t have a relationship with now, and had ended up in Cornwall living in a bus which he’s parked up on land where he has opened a campsite running a veteran’s retreat. I couldn’t catch all the rest, but that’s a flavour of it. Just so many stories!


Badger is my first male who has come forward to be interviewed and swim with me!

As he waded into the sea, belly filled with love and tattoos all over, we talk about the crucifix he’s wearing and his journey with faith, which we hold similar views on. His dog Rodney woofs away. The sea is the most stunning turquoise and the sand golden. I felt calm and content in the sea today. Still didn’t want to swim too far out but Badger had a good front crawl away, returning to tell me it’s been a blessing for him finding sea swimming: his escape, his way of coping, discovering new life, holding his faith.

This man was made to be in these salty waters! He walks out like a bear! Long hair, grey beard and grinning from ear to ear. I’m not going to forget him any time soon!

Check nooncregg.com to find out more (and maybe meet him to hear the rest of the story…).

Monday 25th April…

 

We’re in Cornwall! Waaaaa!

Long drive down but good to be in the gorgeous Falmouth! Although today’s swim was with a lovely lady called Ella who lives in Penzance took me to the infamous Battery Rocks to swim, just tucked away behind the outside Jubilee Pool.

If it wasn’t for Ella’s bubbly, patient, and caring personality, I think I would’ve taken one look at that sea and reconsidered getting in it! But also knowing Ella was a qualified sea swimming instructor I felt reassured I was in the right hands!

I am not a strong swimmer, but I am also very aware of how precarious sea swimming is, and the water today was very choppy and the swell fairly large!

And it’s not like we were entering on a calm sandy beach! We undressed on the warm concrete, by the graffitied wall and then entered the sea via steps which dropped straight in. I felt the most apprehensive about entering water I think I’ve ever felt in my life! I’ve entered many a rough water in reservoirs, lakes, or tarns, but for me, the sea holds an unknown quality which sometimes frightens me at its sheer power and ability to change!

I was reassured watching a couple of teenage girls who had just come down to mess around in their wetsuits, this being their after-school routine, but they tended to cling to the sides, like the barnacles dotted about.

Anyhow, enough of me! This swim was about Ella and engaging in her swim world, and she graciously was aware of guiding me into the swell she unveiled some of the reasons she started taking her swimming more seriously. Ella is from Penzance and following alongside a career in music took her swimming up a level following having a child. Ella did her lifeguard training and now also runs a sea swimming course company called Wild Edge Swim. I think people like this are so important! Helping us understand the waters better, enabling us to enjoy them at their best.

Whilst we were swimming out, Ella told me how she spotted a minke whale in the summer where we were swimming…I at that point convinced myself I saw a white fin (😆) turns out to be the arm of a swimmer who was doing lengths back and forth. I am in awe of swimmers like this! I’d love to be able to swim like that. And almost to prove the point, Ella did a handstand under the water as we got out and a dive and a tumble turn. Pffftt easy haha!

What an intro back into the sea today!

Check Ella’s company out for courses if you’re ever in Cornwall: Wild Edge Swim

Friday 22nd April…

A day of swimming with old school friends!

Firstly met with my best friend Alexa who I grew up with and who was home visiting family. As our kids played in a canoe up and down the river, we took a quick dip together. Like me, swimming wasn’t a ‘thing’ for Alexa as a kid – it was more something fun to do in the absence of much else going on in rural Cumbria!

Then my next door neighbour Julia who I grew up with, who is now a secondary school teacher in the area, came to join us in Calderbridge and swim in the river with her friend Sarah. I didn’t get back in having swam already, but rather chatted to them both as they swam up and down the river. They were in for a good 20 odd minutes. I loved their crossing back and forth and their resilience to the cold! They told me how they’d met each other, finding their shared love for cold water swimming. How Julia, choosing to come back to live and have a family in Cumbria, took her childhood swimming in rivers and lakes up a notch to swim regularly with a group from Seascale; her challenges she set herself (swimming the length of Wastwater) and her aim to swim all the tarns in the Lakes.

They both agreed they swim to maintain good mental health, (for a break from their kids!) and for ‘me’ time as a woman and mother.

Their swimming companions, all having different walks in life but being a solid group of friends. A common story throughout my time blogging about swimmers.

It was so nice to spend time again with Julia, whose parents still live next door to mine, to come back together having gone off and done various things in our lives. Both Julia and Sarah and also my friend Alexa, later came to watch SWIM at our local theatre Rosehill in Whitehaven, where there were also old school friends I haven’t seen since Sixth Form in the audience!

A really special thing for people to cradle old memories and celebrate growing up in west Cumbria. Felt all the love.

Thursday 21st April…

Today I had a much-needed day with my family.

It’s been a long old road with SWIM but especially since the start of March rehearsals through to opening at Theatre by the Lake and then the rural tour. Next week I go to Cornwall and it’ll be the first time I’ve been away from my youngest for a week. It’s been hard on my kids and my husband, but we’ve had the incredible support of my parents.

I met up with my husband and kids at Glencoyne Bay at the top end of Ullswater.

It was sunny and bright but really windy and the water was very choppy. I plunged in straight away before I got too cold. I swam to the sound of my son shouting “Mamma” on repeat. I loved swimming back to the beach seeing my family sat there together.

After a picnic and walk into the woods, admiring the view and incredible blossom everywhere, we returned to the water’s edge as my daughter wanted to have a dip. We told her it’d be a bit cold and squeezed her into the baby ring for buoyancy safety! And my son took his shoes and socks off and had a paddle too.

There were tears when I had to leave to drive up to Alston (for one of our remotest venues!) and I’ve found these tears the hardest to deal with over the past 2 months. It’s guilt.

But this is my career and I love what I do and I’ll be back to being full-time mum very very soon, but for now it’s dipping my toes in with my family and fully immersing myself in my storytelling.

Wednesday 20th April…

I was contacted by Jo who came to see the show last week, to join her for a swim.

Knowing I love a river swim, she suggested a good spot a mile walk from where we could park. Beautiful sunny day, we headed together with her friend Rachel and they told me how they live in a small village not far from Penrith and are involved in lots of various ‘active’ and child-orientated events in their community, how they have a group who like to run/walk and more lately, swim (or dip as they called it!).

We walked through some lovely fields full of lambs, past an old church and then reached this glorious deep bend in the river with a pebble beach.

This is my cup of tea! Had a lovely, relatively long dip.

Felt really relaxed with these lovely ladies. Jo runs Fellside Active – offering a personal training service and Rachel has 6 children (!) so you know, that’s like a full time job no?!

Really nice walk and swim and grateful for this time before going indoors for the show.

Tuesday 19th April…

The big day had finally come for my musician Lavender!

A planned first wild swim for them.

All prepped with a wetsuits, gloves, and socks, we were lucky enough to river swim following short walk from our touring accommodation in the wilderness of the Eden valley.

I could sense Lavender’s anxiety as we clambered over stiles and ambled through woods to find a plunge pool in the bend of the river which we’d been recommended.

Giving up trying to find it, I picked a spot which was easy for us to climb down the bank of the river and enter the water. Lavender got into their loaned load of neoprene and followed me into the water, not making too much of a fuss at the start and then hollering and swearing at me for ‘making’ them do it 😆 but before long, Lavender was fully immersed and floating alongside me down this short stretch of flat-sitting river. I pointed out the noises and view down the centre of the river (my favourite thing is river swimming), but I think this was overkill for Lavender who was just trying to come to terms with the temperature change!

I climbed out as I started to lose feeling to my hands and our stage manager was on camera capturing the moment, grinning her head off.

Lavender climbs out and, before they started the tedious effort of getting out of their wetsuit, exclaims “I’m black, queer and come from the city…but I’d do that again!” Result! Then they cursed getting all the neoprene off.

Once dressed we headed back and off to do the get in for the show in Shap, and Lavender said they felt really tired, and I’m thinking it’s a combination of the adrenaline and the energy expelled to warm up, but hoping it’s a good tired and they sleep well tonight (not during the show) having experienced the incredible powers of being in cold water.

Monday 18th April…

Met with Heather today to swim in her usual daily spot in Ullswater.

Heather is a fingerprint specialist for the police. I’ve never met a fingerprint specialist, I thought it sounded pretty interesting, Heather doesn’t share the same excitement for it ha!

Heather, like a few others that I have met, moved from the south to Cumbria just weeks before the pandemic hit and then found herself in quite a lonely position. But it was when she was invited to go paddle boarding with a colleague that she was actually more intrigued by getting into the water.

And 2 years on, Heather is swimming everyday to help with her mental health.

I don’t think Heather would mind me saying that she’s found the last couple of years difficult. Tough job in certain respects, lives on her own and is seeking out a community to establish herself in. Other than her struggles with the menopause over the last few years, Heather is fit and well and eager to reach out and meet people. But it can be really isolating living in rural Cumbria.

I felt a sense of sadness from Heather. And I’m glad she has found the water is a comfort and a support. 

If you’re reading this and want to meet Heather for a swim (or a drink!) I encourage you to get in touch via Bassenthwaite Babes, she’s lovely. She graciously waited for me as I faffed around changing and also bobbed around in the choppy water. We both agreed, despite the sunshine, that swimming in the wind is our least favourite condition to swim in.

Now on rural tour around Cumbria for the week. Tickets are free! https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/team

Saturday 16th April…

Met with Lottie in Crummock. Such a beautiful day. Loved our walk through the woods, spotting a nuthatch next to us.

The sun shone off the surface. A family had made a small fire and were brewing tea having been paddle boarding and swimming. There was a real feeling of peace on the shingle as we waded into the water.

Lottie lives in west Cumbria and tells me how she grew up in Liverpool, always in the water whenever on holiday in the Lakes or Wales, so it’s a dream come true to live here now (and the rest of her family). She swims as much as she can in the week to help keep her ‘sane’, loves her tight group of swimmers, who have become even closer following the tragic loss of one of the members. The same story Annette told me at yesterday’s swim.

Lottie talked of the grief they’ve held together in the water especially, the need for each other and the cold swimming.

We treaded water as we looked back at Grasmoor towering over us. Heading back to the shore eventually and drying, it was the first time I really didn’t feel the need to rush off to the theatre to shower and prep for the show. I enjoyed sitting and watching the young families and their children playing by the water, listening to the sounds of the wood and chatting about our pets together!

My musician Lavender joined us, not in the water, but talked about prepping them for their first swim this coming week (!) and the post-show discussion with Suzanna Cruickshank and Suzie Wheway last night.

The questions the audience posed on outdoor swimming and the ongoing need for diversity and accessibility for all.

I really enjoyed this time to rest in and by the water and meet someone new. Sad to be finishing at Theatre by the Lake tonight, and maybe that’s why I didn’t want to rush away! but feel it was a lovely swim to ease me into the next stint of the tour.

Looking for folk to swim with on the Cumbrian rural tour: continue to get in touch! 

Friday 15th April…


A long awaited swim with Annette!

We both got Covid the same week we’d planned a swim, but today we made it happen! We swam from Ashness. Beautiful view. Still water. Glamorous Annette, who is celebrating her 70th year by swimming in 70 different places with 70 different people. Before we got in Annette was telling me about tragedy that has hit their small group of regular swimmers and how yesterday she swam at 5.30am to mark the first anniversary. The moon was still up.

That in mind, there was a feeling of sadness in the water but Annette assured me it’s where her friend would’ve wanted everyone to be: in the water. In this place.

Like so many swimmers I’ve met the last few weeks, Annette did a ‘Suzanna Swims’ course to help get her confidence up in the water, telling me that she started in a wetsuit, didn’t like it and Suzanna advised taking it off in the water, and Annette much preferred her swimming after that. 

Annette made homemade cake for us and was looking forward to her evening in the theatre, along with the post-show discussion with the very Suzanna Cruikshank herself. 

Was grateful to have been one of Annette’s 70 swimmers, and obviously always grateful for the continued support of the show.

Yet another wonderful woman to swim with. 

Thursday 14th April…

Ahh wow what a swim today! I met with the lovely Traci at Bassenthwaite lake.

Stood in her campervan, Traci begins by asking how long to I want to swim for, to which I reply “As long as I can”…which at this time of year is usually 10 minutes. Knowing my swimming ability (or lack of!) it is then apparent by how Traci de-kits herself ready for a short breaststroke kinda swim 😆

So Traci used to do triathlons and then, following an injury, her training diminished and now she ‘just’ enjoys swimming 5k in open water for pleasure. No wetsuit, or neoprene socks or gloves. Just her and ‘Pamela’ as she calls it- following a mastectomy and naming her implant after the busty Baywatch character, Traci also got herself a matching red cossie with zip for the role. Very fetching.

I instantly warmed to Traci’s humour.

Traci asked if I’m a ‘screamer’ as we walked to the water’s edge. “No” I replied “but I do sing songs when I get to my o zone”. I told Traci how my musician said that when we feel in danger or feel fear, we revert to childhood songs…which is why I always sing Disney when getting in cold water! But it’s not fear, it’s a giddiness I suppose.

Traci, with her strong Black Country accent tells me how she only started swimming in these cold lakes after moving here just before the pandemic and how she’s found her gaggle of swimmers, named ‘Swim & natter’, although she tends to swim off in front crawl and leaves the others to natter. I urged Traci to swim on without me but she said she was enjoying taking her time and taking in the view.
I had to call it to swim back, I didn’t think my body could take it much longer! And when we reached the edge Traci told us we’d swam for 21 minutes and 564 metres! I was well pleased with myself. But just a mere dip for Traci!My teeth were chattering away as we dressed after and we had a natter about the various swim groups across Cumbria.

If you’re in one and you want to swim with me whilst I’m here until 22nd April – get in touch!

I drove away with a shake and a shiver and a big grin on my face having met the tall and bold Traci! Brilliant.

Tuesday 12th April…

I’m back! And it’s never felt so good to swim again. What a blessing for the rain (which was pelting down during the matinee) to have cleared and for the view of the misty mountains clearing across the water and a freshness in the air (heaven having been indoors with Covid for a week).

Postponed swims meant I already some some swims with folks planned and rescheduled and it was so good to meet Monique. I didn’t know it was her that called out cheerfully in the show that I’d be meeting to swim with after the show. Monique is from the Netherlands and brings this lovely warm honesty and frankness to how she talks about swimming, and how the British approach it all 😆.

I had never seen a pop up changing stool before until Monique whipped hers out of her swim bag and sat on it to change!

Chatting away about how swimming really pulled her through the pandemic, how it’s how she met a closer bunch of outdoor swimmers, how this swimming was one of her closest feelings of being back in her home country. Monique told me that when she first did a swimming course she had her first experience in a wetsuit, but hated that swim and realised it was the restriction of the wetsuit- much preferring to swim in a cossie…or naked preferably! Laughing as she tells me how in the Netherlands there’s no issue with nakedness, especially when swimming and saunas but the group of women she swims with now are the first British people she’s met who are up for a moonlit skinny dip!

It was glorious to swim out into the calm of the lake together.

We chatted about the show, about Monique’s love for the theatre, especially Theatre by the Lake. She’s part of the creative programme and just loves meeting all the people who get involved locally.

For once I was the first to be dressed and ready to move after, but I enjoyed Monique balancing on her stool trying to get her socks on with an all-round joviality about her as she talked!

So good to be in the water again, and on stage, and to meet someone like Monique.

Tuesday 5th April…

Today was not really the kind of weather which makes me skip to the waterside if I’m honest! Very windy and raining! I met Tracy just before my matinee. We both laughed at our slight reluctance to walk to the water and also both apologised to each other for wearing our Dryrobes (mine a cheaper version!) muttering how we don’t usually walk around in our Dryrobes…😆

“Tracy was like a breath of fresh air- chatting away to me at ease about her swimming, her family, her work.”

Her love for Keswick and the surrounding area. I hardly noticed I’d undressed as we nattered, but before long we were clambering across the stones into Derwentwater. We swam where I’ve been swimming alone most days as I rehearsed the show, so it was nice to have the company.

Tracy talked of her love to swim in the lakes more local to her. We talked about blue algae and about how overpopulated places are in the summer! Tracy shares my love for running and especially running to water and then running home and feeling warm from it! But also how a hot bath is her go-to post-lake swims.

“As we dress after, Tracy tells me how she is coming to see my show this evening and bringing a friend who has been badly hit with grief.”

We talked about holding him carefully and preparing him for the themes in the show, but she seemed confident in him and that the theatre is one of the best places to share in stories like this. Hope to hold her and many in this evening’s sharing.

Monday 4th April…

Kicking off the start of my swimming blog and my tour with local swimming communities around the various UK locations I’ll be visiting over the next month, by swimming with this fabulous 4!

I was invited to join the ‘Sunset Skinnies’ for a swim at Calfclose Bay in Derwentwater.

Real windy and choppy and overcast today! But nothing was deterring these women as they got into their cosies and natter to me about how they got ‘in to’ cold water swimming. One having swam for 10 years, one introduced via a friend who had done a “Suzanna Swims” course, and another had given it a go but got herself in a sticky situation with hyperthermia after her first swim and was encouraged to stick with it, learn how to do it safely and got back into the cold water days after her ordeal.

As we swam out, the wild water lapping over our faces, the eldest from the group and, what felt like, the mamma of everyone, pulled ahead in front of us. The others commented that she was their leader, guiding them, choosing when it’s time to turn back. This ‘leader’ also apparently is the best cook and the ladies all smiled when thinking on her food.

“This type of community of swimmers makes me smile from ear to ear”

A group of people who didn’t know each other prior to finding each other’s shared passion for the water, who come together to swim, eat and celebrate together. Who make a trip out of a swim, a visit to a restaurant and then to catch a theatre show after. A coming together.

I was chilly afterwards as we all sipped on our flasks of hot drinks, and was grateful to return to the electric heater in my dressing room!

Thank you Sunset Skinnies!