Jack Brown

Launceston's Jack Brown prepares for another winter swim, which he says eases his anxiety, depression and insomnia.

'Come on in, the water's fine'

By Paul O'Rourke

Jack Brown says almost daily swimming in Cataract Gorge in Launceston has dramatically improved his mental, emotional and physical health.

Jack, 30, who was diagnosed at 18 with bipolar disorder, noticed an immediate improvement in his overall wellbeing when he took his first swim 14 weeks ago.

“My brother Fergus and his wife Lauren suggested we go for a swim after a picnic at the gorge,” he said.

“We swam for about 10 minutes. I felt better straight away. My anxiety, depression and insomnia have eased.

“I also meditate and do a range of physical and breathing exercises.

“I made a commitment to go every day, and the swims have made a big difference to my mental health.”

Jack has signed up to the Loaves and Fishes Tasmania Winter Solstice Splash at the gorge on Sunday, June 20. You can join Jack and dozens of others by signing up for the swim.

Jack joins politicians Michael Ferguson and Michelle O'Byrne, and major sponsor Hydro Tasmania CEO Evangelista Albertini, and Loaves and Fishes CEO Andrew Hillier.

Jack swims for up to half an hour a day in temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Celsius down to 9.5 degrees. He also takes two cold showers a day.

'Your body adapts to the cold'

“I don’t even feel the cold anymore.

“Your body adapts.

Jack, from Launceston, has the following tips for novices who have signed up to the Loaves and Fishes Tasmania Winter Solstice Splash on Sunday, June 20:

Start taking cold showers. Start with hot water and gradually decrease the temperature day-by-day until you can manage a cold shower. Doing this technique slowly is the key to success. Concentrate on slowing your breathing.

Warm up before the swim to increase circulation and core body temperature.

Enter the water gradually so your body gets used to the cold.

Concentrate on slowing your breathing down.

Avoid putting your head under the water until you are breathing normally. Consider wearing a swim cap to help retain heat.

Don’t be scared. The discomfort is only temporary. Remember, help is close by if you get into trouble.

Remember why you are doing this.