#Supported-By SaturdayAlex Sehgal
Our Supported By Tiso network collaborates with leading adventure photographers and film makers, outdoor advocates, change makers and everyday explorers. We are proud to support and collaborate with this diverse network of inspirational outdoor leaders. This week we are chatting to Alex Sehgal who is currently completing her PHD in Edinburgh, but at every opportunity can be found at the beach open water swimming, surfing and paddle boarding!
Tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from, what do you do?
I’m Alex, I’m half Indian and half Filipino but I’ve been so lucky to have travelled the world with my parents growing up. Currently, I’m a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh and call Scotland my adopted home. My PhD studies movement patterns in people with knee replacements and I’m passionate about active lifestyles for lifelong healthy.
What sparked your interest in the outdoors?
I have loved the outdoors from a very young age. My early childhood house backed onto a boulder field where my best friends and I spent our days playing on big rocks. We lived near a nature reserve where my dad would always go walking with the dogs so that was my first exposure to outdoor life. I’ve also always loved being in and around water. My mum says I could swim before I could walk, and I believe her!
Where is your favourite place in Scotland to enjoy the outdoors?
This is a tough choice between the Hebrides (Inner or Outer – I’m not fussy!) and North Berwick on the East Lothian coast. The beaches are beautiful on the islands and the water is so clear. On a sunny day it’s hard to believe the photos are in Scotland. East Lothian has a special place in my heart as it’s a great place to swim, SUP or surf depending on the conditions. North Berwick also has some great places to get coffee and eat after being in or on the water.
Are there any outdoor activities you would love to try
There are too many! I love trying new things. Rock climbing, mountain biking and sailing are on my list, but climbing is at the top. I occasionally visit the local bouldering wall, much to the dismay of the actual climbers because I can manage but I’m not very good! So I’d like to learn properly and eventually get into winter climbing but it’ll take a while to work up to that!
What is on your adventure bucket list
There are so many adventures I want to go on, both local and international. At the top of my list is to cycle the Hebridean Way, dipping and camping as I go. I’m also yet to do the North Coast 500. Longer term I’d love to visit the Faroe Islands and go on surf trips to lots of tropical destinations.
What is your “motivation” and why do you share it?
I love the outdoors and active lifestyles, whether that be a micro-adventure right on your doorstep of a mammoth multi-day undertaking. I believe that being outdoors – and particularly being around water – are good for the body and soul. I’m passionate about promoting lifelong health and forming healthy habits that help people become a better version of themselves.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone starting out doing wild swimming?
Outdoor swimming is really easy to start! You don’t need any fancy gear to get dipping. Familiarise yourself with some basic safety (about tides, currents and temperature) then grab a friend, start with a puddle and work your way up!
Who is your biggest inspiration??
There are many who inspire me, but Ross Edgley is my absolute hero from swimming around Britain to rope-climbing the height of Everest! He’s just the complete all-around athlete. My background is also in sports science and I’m passionate about strength & conditioning for performance in extreme environments. I like that Ross’ work is evidence-based in terms of training, nutrition and psychology, and the results really show. Plus, he’s just a total beast!
What has been your biggest challenge while outdoor swimming?
Swimming the Corryvreckan Whirlpool on the west coast between the islands of Jura and Scarba was one of the most challenging things I’ve done. Although the width of the channel is about 1km, the swim itself can be between 1-2.5km depending on what the current is doing. You have a 40-minute window to cross the 200m deep stretch at slack tide before the whirlpool starts up again. I was carrying a shoulder injury and struggled against the current, but I’m also scared of deep open water where you can’t see the bottom or touch the sides! So that was a mental as well as physical battle, but at least I can now say I’ve swam across the world’s third largest maelstrom!