Date Posted... Mar 24th 2021




Bethany Allen & Lydia Paleschi (née Jackson) CO13

Taking the ‘plunge’ – in more ways than one!

Bethany and Lydia met aged 11 when they both joined 1J with form tutor Dr Spring (Head of History) – Bethany describes Dr Spring as “one of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered”. Bethany and twin sister Tegan CO13 were following in the footsteps of sister Daisy CO12 and brother Charlie CO10 (now living in Sweden) whilst Lydia joined the school on an academic scholarship. All the girls enjoy swimming and surfing, and it was this shared love and appreciation for the ocean that would lead to Bethany and Lydia’s joint venture some years after leaving school.

The girls rekindled their friendship when they both returned to Cornwall having been to university and gaining experiencing in different work environments. Lydia suggested the idea of building a wild swimming community and creating a guidebook for wild swimming in Cornwall. Combining their skills and experience seemed like the perfect venture or more aptly ….’adventure.’ When their friend Max Campbell (who also grew up in Cornwall) was forced to return from his sailing circumnavigation due to the pandemic, he heard of the project. His Oceanography degree, experience as an RNLI lifeguard and photography skills made Max ideal for the team and Wild Swimming Cornwall was created in 2020.

The project aims to promote the physical, mental, and social benefits of wild swimming, to make it more accessible and to motivate a community of like-minded, environmentally conscious people.

Wild swimming has played a huge part in Lydia overcoming her struggles with mental health and for Bethany it has been a tonic while supporting loved ones through severe mental health problems. Having decided to leave London and return to Cornwall to change her lifestyle, Lydia describes access to blue spaces and the ocean as ‘instrumental’ in her mental health recovery and hopes that it can be a tool for others to achieve better emotional health too.

The trio have also been working on creating a book – ‘A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall’ – which they are planning to self-publish in April following their successful crowdfunding campaign. The guidebook contains information on the benefits of cold water swimming, safety information and details of around 50 swimming locations in Cornwall. They hope that the book will make wild swimming more accessible and encourage more people to experience its benefits whilst being mindful of how their actions impact the natural world.

“If more people are able to access these spaces it will help to create a healthier and happier community whilst also encouraging a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. It’s humbling to receive feedback from our audience, confirming that we are having a positive impact on their lives. The most rewarding thing for us is to know that what we’re doing is helping people, especially those who struggle with mental health.” – Bethany


And the future?

Bethany hopes to learn how to sail so that she can travel by sail rather than air. “My dream is to cross the Atlantic and the Pacific by sail before settling in New Zealand. I will also continue to work on projects that benefit people and the environment.” Lydia plans to head to central America, finding and sharing the stories of inspiring people and cultures. “I realise that the best things in life are usually unexpected, so I’m not going to plan too much. I’m looking forward to seeing where life takes me, whilst continuing to work towards being the best version of myself.”


Advice for aspiring writers:

“Read as many books as you can, write a journal, do some online creative writing courses or seminars and don’t give up. Come up with regular story ideas that you can pitch to newspapers and magazines. They will be more inclined to accept your work if you emulate their style and if you research stories that they are likely to feature. As with anything, practice is key! You will have failures, but the more you fail the more you will learn to succeed. And if your work gets rejected ask them why so you can improve for next time!

Practising how to produce high quality photography is also a great idea as images and writing go hand in hand. And if you are struggling to decide upon a career direction, you don’t have to decide too early – just follow the path that you love the most. Choose the subjects that you enjoy, surround yourself with people who fill you with positivity and always remain true to yourself.”Bethany

“The best career advice I could give is to do what feels right. It’s important to do things which afford us fulfilment and not because other people tell us we should. It’s much easier to work hard, to network, and to produce results if we believe in and love what we’re doing. It’s taken me a long time, trying different things, to work out what that is for me, but it has been worth it, and I have learnt many transferable skills along the way. And do not be afraid of failure. It is better to have tried and failed than to do nothing at all, or to commit to something which does not bring us meaning and purpose. The quicker you learn to fail gracefully, the quicker you progress both professionally and personally.”- Lydia

Co-founders of Wild Swimming Cornwall Bethany, Lydia & Max: credit Josh Tarr

Bethany and Lydia CO13. Photo by Max Campbell.

Wild swimming at sunset. Photo by Max Campbell.

Photo by Max Campbell.

Photo by Max Campbell.

Photo by Max Campbell.

Photo by Max Campbell.

Photo by Max Campbell.

Alumni News