A woman who has vowed to complete 40 outdoor swims to raise money for Above & Beyond has been bog snorkelling as her latest challenge.

Anna Southwell set herself the challenge in her 40th year and has so far completed 28 swims.

In April this year her partner Josh was suddenly diagnosed with leukaemia. Having already hit her original fundraising target after just 11 swims, Anna decided to continue fundraising for Above & Beyond.

Anna said: “After the diagnosis Josh was immediately admitted to Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre (BHOC) where he has since been cared for and treated.

“I stayed there with him and have been overwhelmed with admiration and respect for the hospital staff. The housekeepers, porters, nurses, nursing assistants, consultants, radiologists, surgeons - each and every person we have met has been kind, reassuring, patient, hard-working and thorough.

“The ward Josh stayed on was refurbished with donations to Above & Beyond. Josh has a room of his own where he is able to fully immerse himself into his treatment and recovery, and without this things would feel very different.

“My family members, my friend’s family members, my friends – we are all touched in some way by this wonderful resource and these hard-working NHS staff.

“The money raised through Above & Beyond will directly help the Bristol hospitals and, fundamentally, help all of us. The NHS is a wonderful thing and it really deserves all our support.”

Anna’s latest challenge was the World Bog Snorkelling Championship in Llanwrtyd, Wales, on 26 August, where she swam two consecutive lengths of a 60 metre water-filled trench cut through a peat bog.

The rules are strict and Anna was allowed to use flipper power alone to complete the course, with no conventional swimming strokes allowed.

She said: “I felt amazing after I had completed the bog snorkel. It was actually a lot harder than I had predicted it was going to be and I wish I'd done a little bit more practice at snorkelling in bog conditions in a straight line as I kept banging into the banks – which maybe slowed my time down a bit.

“There was a great feeling of comradely from the other contestants as we all thought we were as mad as each other - especially during mid-Wales monsoon season!  

“It was a test of endurance, for sure but a great feeling of achievement, and my skin has felt incredibly soft ever since.”

So far Anna’s swims have ranged from a two and a half kilometre open swim in Dartmoor to swims in Clevedon Lake.

Anna said: “As my 40th birthday approached I pondered what turning 40 really meant to me. I figured the best way to avoid a personal crisis was to set myself a challenge during this year that would push my boundaries.

“Taking inspiration from an incredible woman I met in January this year, Ella Foote, a wild swim enthusiast, I decided that the challenge would be to take 40 outdoor swims.

“What I get from wild swimming is a sense of personal achievement, a connection with nature and an overall feeling of wellbeing. To head towards 40 feeling all of these things is a happy prospect.

“I wanted to give my quest maximum purpose and meaning, so I am fundraising for charities close to my heart.”

Amy Barnard-Smith, community fundraising officer for Above & Beyond, said: “It’s amazing that Anna has chosen to give something back to the Bristol hospitals where Josh has been treated.

“She’s taking on some incredible swimming challenges and the bog snorkelling was a fantastic event – even in the rain!”

To sponsor Anna go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anna40swims

Anyone interested in fundraising for Above & Beyond can contact Amy on [email protected]