Recommended events

  • Personal Stories

Salt water therapy: Swimming my way through heartbreak and frustration

After suffering miscarriage in 2018, Nicole turned to swimming to rebuild her mental and physical strength.

Words by Nicole Holyer. A journalist and writer by trade, Nicole posts very irregularly on her blog, and for us.

I have been swimming with OceanFit since 2017). I’ve loved developing my confidence and my weekly morning sunrise swims.

Then, last year I fell pregnant and had a miscarriage all in a short period of time.

It all happened pretty quickly, it was one big shock after another.

I couldn’t exercise for a while because I was really nauseous, then my thyroid stopped working properly and I had to go on medication (which I’m still on). It really threw my physical (and mental) health around.

So, this season I have been swimming my way through heartbreak and frustration.

When I swim I count my breaths as I stroke, slowly up and down the pool lanes, or across the bay at Bondi, each stroke a metronome tick: one, two, three, four.

I entered the water in spring a stranger to myself. My body was round, full of strange hormones and medication, heavier than it has ever been, and so very slow. I did not trust my body, much less like it. I was angry and sad, and I wanted to punish my body for failing me in a very profound and fundamental way.

The counting was soothing and gave my mind something to focus on, other than the failed pregnancy and all that rage.

As my heavy limbs worked, my mind was able to rest.

Ocean swimming sessions were an opportunity to forget myself. Instead of remembering, I looked for the plate-sized stingrays buried lightly beneath the sand, and the little silver fish with flickering eyes. I ducked and dived and strained to keep up with the strong swimmers, heart beating fast. I built muscle.

Here at the end of summer, I am tanned and a little leaner (but not much), faster than I was, and a lot less distrustful. Mostly I can keep up now.

I’m still swimming through heartbreak and frustration, and daresay I will be for a time to come. Instead of welcoming a summer baby, I must keep swimming through the change of season, hoping for the best.

The rage has quietened. I am softening into forgiveness. And I am coming to understand that healing follows saltwater, the right amount of rest, and the count of my breath.

Nicole, forth from right, in front during a morning OceanFit class

First published on

  • Written by Ocean Swims on 18 February 2019
  • (Updated on 4 August 2023)



The guardian of open water swimming: Passionately supporting the swimming community since 1999

Copyright © 1999-2024 All rights reserved.
‘OCEANFIT is a registered trademark of OceanFit Pty Ltd.