How This Wild Woman Faced Her Ultimate Fear 'Without Thinking'
By Sophia Hatzis | Digital Content Producer
Lee-Anne Carson didn't really know why she avoided the water. She'd lived on the beach for many years. But she just never went in. She didn't dip her toe into the ocean, or wade up to her knees, or go for a swim. Lee-Anne avoided the water like the plague for 40 years. But when she set herself the challenge of swimming with Can Too, she was confronted by a terrifying truth. Whenever Lee-Anne went close to the water or immersed herself in the waves, she was overwhelmed by panic attacks. Slowly but surely, memories started to return. They were flashbacks of a traumatic near-drowning.
When Lee-Anne was eight, she was pulled from the water unconscious and resuscitated by a quick-thinking passer-by. Her brain suppressed the horrific memories but as she trained for the Can Too swim, they started coming back. Lee-Anne bravely completed the challenge, swimming the whole route with a lifeguard by her side. She wasn't able to get her head under the water and swam the entire kilometre in side-stroke or backstroke. After the event, she went back to avoiding the water and did so for ten years.
Until she was confronted by the ocean in a Trek Training session with Di Westaway...
The ladies started stripping down to their bathers, preparing to frolick and run laps around eachother in the water. Lee-Anne admits she was nervous. But she didn't feel the fear she was used to. She didn't feel panic.
"Without thinking, I just did it," she says.
Lee-Anne felt safe. She knew she was going to be okay because of the supportive group of women around her. Facing her fear of the water wasn't hard. It just, happened.
"I was safe with a great group of women having fun, and without hesitation I ran into the water. I felt amazing! The cold water, the feeling of happiness, the empowerment that I was doing something I did not think possible. I had Di take a picture as I thought my husband would never believe me!" she says.
A network of strong, passionate, and kind women isn't the only benefit Lee-Anne has experienced since joining Trek Training earlier in the year.
"I was checking in with my doctor as I have had asthma and breathing difficulties," she says. "A few months ago, before Wild Women On Top, my lung capacity was 56%. This week it was 93%! My doctor says that only difference is Wild Women On Top and it is reversing my asthma damage and improving my longevity!
"It was one decision. One moment to show up for my first walk with Wild Women On Top. And that made all the difference."
This wild and inspiring woman is heading off to Machu Picchu next week and she has big, adventurous plans for the future.
What do you love MOST about being a Wild Woman?
What I love most about being a Wild Woman is the comradery. Women engaging in life, with each other, in nature, how much better can it get?
What's the best hike you've ever done and what made it so epic?
The best hike I have every done was with Di Westaway, as she challenged us to play games on a beach. Di had no idea I had not been in the ocean for over ten years even though I live on the beach! Without hesitation I jumped in and that was epic. My next epic trek coming up is Machu Picchu, so stay tuned.
Which hiking destination is at the top of your bucket list and why?
My ultimate bucketlist adventure is Camino (in Spain).
What's the best hiking advice you've ever been given?
Know where you are placing your feet.