OSS Swimmers Profiles 2

As we continue our partnership with The OSS we are now going to bring you updates and profiles of real swimmers participating in SWIM COUCH TO 5K. These are people with a real passion for outdoor swimming. Be inspired by these swimmers and start your own swim journey! And remember there is still time to join SWIMCOUCHTO5K. This is our second installment of real swimmers taking part.





Name; Will Sparkes

Swim Locations; South Coast, England - Eastney and Hayling Island mainly, almost always in the sea


Will SparkesWill Sparkes


Follow Will on social; @bill.sparkes

About the swimmer; I’ve massively let my swimming fitness go over winter, with pools closed especially I can only manage so long in cold water. I’m starting to get back into it and I’m training in other ways but I think I need structure to get me back to swimming good distances. I’ve focussed on lower body and cardio but need to improve my upper body strength as well with a busy year of military training ahead of me. I usually exercise multiple times a week, and I live close to the sea so swim weekly - I work a busy Rota in A&E but will always have days off to afford swimming especially as the days get longer and warmer.
Commitment - Swimming is a massive part of my life, I’ve never lived more than 10 miles from the sea so I’ve been really lucky and always had the opportunity to get in the water. It’s the only time during the week that I can’t listen to music or be contacted and I find it really cathartic to be with my own thoughts, even just for half an hour. I really enjoy the social side of open water swimming that I’ve discovered in the last couple of year too and it’s allowed me to meet some great new and like-minded people.

Update 1 from Will;

The land training has been going well, and being able to get into gyms again and work on upper body strength and conditioning has been a big help. It's also meant that I'm no longer weather dependent for cardiovascular work which is a godsend! Unfortunately swim slots at my local pool are few and far between, however the water is beginning to warm up and I'm able to do more extended sessions in the sea. There's been some lovely sunny days that I've made the most of in the Solent and it feels great to be back in the water. I think my main tips and feelings so far are not beating yourself up about struggling to get back in the water and taking it slowly. It can be quite disconcerting to tire in the water after only a few minutes but just getting a feel for swimming again, and working on technique means you can convert the fitness you've gained on land into decent swimming.


Update 2 from Will;

I have to say with a difficult work schedule at the moment it’s hard work keeping up but I’m managing (just!) to keep my head above the water. The water is nice and warm and I’m noticing the distances increase as well as my speed and endurance ability. I did the Eastbourne standard distance triathlon which helped my confidence somewhat. The hardest thing I’m finding is to have swim sessions long enough, with the local lido only allowing 1 hour maximum for example. In the next week or so I’m really looking forward to increasing the distances and focusing more on my swimming having done my triathlon.



Name; Dianne Parrish


Swim Locations; In normal times, I swim in the local rivers, lakes, coast, forest meres and mountain lakes; in North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside, Wirral and North Shropshire

Dianne ParishDianne Parish

Follow Dianne on social; via the  #ChesterFrosties Facebook social swim group - open water swimming  365 days a year, regardless of the weather (created by Dianne in 2013) currently 2.3k members and over 1k followers on the Chester Frosties Open Water Swimming community FB Page. 

About the swimmer; Due to the pandemic, I have only been dipping since last March 2020 due to lockdown regulations and limited access to open water and swimming pools closed.  I am based in Chester Cheshire (North West) and in normal times, I swim in the local rivers, lakes, coast, forest meres and mountain lakes; in North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside, Wirral and North Shropshire in skins throughout the year, come rain, shine or ice, with my #ChesterFrosties swim buddies! Plus, when it is safe to travel again, I enjoy joining swim camps in the Lake District. My longest swim was Chill Swim Coniston end to end 10k freestyle, a few years ago, (although it took me over 5 hours!) and I have Ullswater end to end booked in July but might have to push that back another year!  I have swum in three English Channel relays and a Loch Ness relay attempt! I was nominated for the ‘Cheshire Woman of the Year Award 2020’ for my volunteer work encouraging OW swimmers, but this has been postponed until we can meet for the event.  In the past I have appeared on a few TV shows, video promotions and magazines featuring open water and wild swimming, such as 'Walks with My Dog', 'Cheshire Housewives Tanya's Cold Water Therapy episode', 'Audi Destinations', 'Weight Watchers', 'This Girl Can campaign'.

Commitment; I need to build my strength, fitness and improve my pace; I think the #swimcouchto5k has arrived just at the right time and is an ideal challenge to regain our outdoor swimming mojo!!


Name; Michael Hurst

Swim Locations; Northern Ireland coastline – mainly in Belfast Lough around Bangor and Ards Peninsula but keen to travel


M HirstM Hirst

Follow Mike social;  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hirstmike

Instagram/twitter: @hirstmike

Strava: Mike Hirst

About the swimmer; I took up swimming when my family moved to Northern Ireland five years ago. We’re lucky to live close to loads of beautiful swimming spots on Belfast Lough, where groups like the Brompton Belles & Beaux Dippers and the Ballyholme Bay Mooners are great craic.

I started off with organised wetsuit swims at Ballyholme Yacht Club, caught the seaswimming bug, did a swim-for-a-mile course in a pool with Olympian and superb coach Andrew Bree, and now swim most mornings before work.

Swimming’s great for mental as well as physical health – it’s the best way to start the day! Weekend swims with the BBDs normally involve coffee and cake while dusk or full-moon swims are followed up with weather-dependent Guinness or hot toddie by a firepit.

Committment; Northern Ireland hosts lots of triathlons so I’ve swum the Narrows on the Portaferry Tri, in the Lagan on the Titanic Tri in Belfast and at Brown’s Bay on Islandmagee. When travel restrictions allow, a group of us enjoy touring to different spots around the country – from Newcastle to Ballycastle to sample the local swimming and seafood – For Cod and Ulster!

The Polar Bear challenge was a great training incentive to keep seaswimming over the colder months.

I’m part of a group aiming to complete the North Channel relay next year, have fingers crossed the Killary Great Fjord swim will go ahead in Galway in October and would love to swim across Belfast Lough from Carrick to Helen’s Bay when Covid and jellyfish allow.


Name; Carole Munro

Swim Locations; Banff Links , Tarlair Macduff, Cullykhan Bay Banffshire, Aberdeen Beach , Cove Bay , Turriff Swimming Pool

Carol MunroCarol Munro

Follow Carole on;  Facebook & Instagram

About the swimmer; I want to do this to get back to Fitness after having a Hip Operation, which has stopped my running etc as  well as having to get another one .

Committment; Committing to this am quite competitive and my furthest swim was a mile , and am retired.(and Rebecca will be keeping an eye on me !!

Swimming is a great none bearing exercise which gives me the Feeling of being Free and the cold water is great  for my hip which is often painful and for mental well-being which I get from it .


Read more about the SWIMCOUCHTO5K at the Outdoor Swimming Society Page

Outdoor SwimmingOutdoor Swimming