To celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate every woman’s journey of success whatever that may look like.   As fans of wild swimming and its role in our holistic wellbeing, we wanted to share Beth French’s story to show that every woman’s success is different.

Beth French is a multiple record holder and champion in extreme outdoor swimming.  A film about her life, Against the Tides, reveals the extraordinary story of a single British mother of an autistic son, and living with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome  (M.E.) herself, sets out to swim Oceans Seven, the ultimate extreme swimming challenge – to show her son that anything in life is possible.

The Oceans Seven challenge is an odyssey-like relay – very few people have ever completed it – in which the swimmer must test their own limits going shore-to-shore across seven of the world’s most dangerous sea channels.  The challenge took Beth all over the world, along with her team, and the BAFTA-winning director Stefan Stuckert.

Beth is a self-starter in the world of her sport. Inspired by the way the water alleviated symptoms and memories of her chronic illness, she decided to undertake the immense training of extreme outdoor swimming herself.  She was in charge of scheduling food and energy breaks, and plotting her course to the shore in real time, during exhausting hours in the water and even when the sea got rough.

As a single working mother and despite not having the privilege to train full time for her passion, Beth is the first person, and only woman, to swim from Cornwall to Scilly Isles (26 miles), the first British woman to complete the massive Molokai channel (28 miles) and the only woman to swim it twice, and a co-world record holder for completing four Oceans 7 swims in a single year.  The Oceans Seven challenge comes with the threat of causing a relapse of her severe M.E symptoms. Nevertheless, Beth takes each race, climb, hike, workout, and swim as an experience of freedom and expression, and used the Oceans Seven challenge as a learning experience for her own body’s limits and potential.  She is a great example of balancing self-care with personal ambition.

Watch Against the Tides here –