The Ice Mile: Why this Sunderland woman swam a mile in near-freezing water

'Ice-milers' like Becca Harvey must complete the feat without a wetsuit. Credit: The Ice Mile by Rachel Sarah

A documentary following a woman's struggle to complete an 'Ice Mile' swimming challenge is premiering in her home town.

The Ice Mile, by documentarian Rachel Sarah, tells the story of Becca Harvey's journey from a mental health crisis to swimming a mile in water under five degrees celsius wearing only a standard swimming costume.

It is to be screened for the first time in Sunderland, where Ms Harvey lives, on Thursday 26 January.

Ahead of the premiere, ITV News Tyne Tees asked her why she would submit herself to such a gruelling challenge.

"Because I've got a screw loose," she replied with a laugh. "That is the first one, but then I just wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't broken anymore."

"I was really struggling with my mental health, therapy wasn't working, and things just weren't aligning properly for me," Ms Harvey continued.

"I'd seen a documentary about how cold water helped and I thought, 'you know what, I'm going to get in contact with someone who I know'.

"I got in with them and then I thought, 'why have I not been doing this longer?'"

Ms Harvey quickly experienced the benefits of immersing oneself in cold water.

"It is extreme mindfulness," she said. "It is that you take your clothes off at the side and leave all your troubles at the side with it.

"Regardless of whether you're having a stressful day, whether it is mental health or chronic busyness, there is so much you can get out of it."

An ice bath convert, she went on to identify a suitable location for the swim - Loch Insh in Cairngorms National Park.

The documentary, which tells the story of the swim and how she prepared for it, will screen at 7:30pm at Sunderland Fire Station and is followed by a question and answer session with Ms Harvey.

A quarter of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the charity Beach Access North East, which promotes and facilitates inclusion at the seaside.

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