'Manningtree Mermaid' embraces the elements with a daily dip in the river during pandemic

  • Watch this video report by ITV News Anglia's Victoria Lampard


Many people have been finding new ways to spend time during the pandemic and that has included embracing the great outdoors. Kellie Rogers, who lives on the Essex-Suffolk border, has been swimming in the River Stour estuary every day since the start of the pandemic.

She has become known locally as the 'Manningtree Mermaid' and has inspired others to go for a dip too.

It began as a way to exercise while the gyms were closed but as the colder months arrived it soon turned into a challenge to see how far she could push herself both mentally and physically

Credit: Kellie Rogers

I just found it really amazing because as you enter into the water you’re fully immersed into the sensation. It grabs your attention fully. It’s a bit like meditation. I was able to really regulate my breathing and slow my breath down and move into the water and surrender into the experience of it and by slowing the breath down you can allow the body to adjust.

Kellie Rogers, Manningtree Mermaid

Kellie is a therapist and her business Harmony Tree aims to help guide people into a greater place of calm.

Her daily swims have inspired others to get involved too and she’s helped to ease them into what can be very cold temperatures.

I find the cold frightening at first but I always feel such a sense of exhilaration when I’ve managed to go in.

Bonny Chmelik, Swimmer

I just had to break the monotony of lockdown and I think I came in in January walking through the snow and the ice to get in. It’s like a reset every day. Every morning go down there and get in and reset the body and start a new day.

Paul Arnold, Swimmer
Manningtree swimmers in the river at sunrise Credit: ITV News Anglia

Cold water swimming is growing in popularity, with people claiming that regular dips have transformed their health and wellbeing.

Research suggests it can have some benefits like better circulation, reduced stress and a boosted immune system.

When Kellie began her daily swims she had no idea a group of like-minded people would be brought together.

No matter how early high tide may be, there is always some company to be had as the group venture into the river each morning.

The magic of it really, as we’ve moved through the year is that it’s brought together a community of people so it’s been like a community experience which was completely unexpected really but really beautiful.

Kellie Rogers