A LIFESAVING Covid nurse has told how her unusual hobby has helped her pull through the pandemic.

Wenda Crawford from Greenock says that open water swimming was a true tonic during the most difficult period of her nursing career.

The 46-year-old told the Telegraph that the strain of working in the Covid high dependency unit of one of Glasgow's busiest hospitals and lockdown might have been too much if she hadn't been able to get outdoors and take the plunge.

Prior to the pandemic, she was an advanced nurse practitioner in cardiology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, but was redeployed to the hospital's Covid high dependency unit when it opened.

In her 25 years in nursing, Wenda had never experienced anything as trying as the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis and soon found herself under immense pressure.

She said: "I've nursed for a long time and I hope never to go through or see anything like that ever again.

"I love my swimming, but when lockdown started all the pools shut.

"If I didn't know where to swim locally and how to do it safely, I wouldn't have had any way to distract myself and chill out after difficult days.

"I'm very fortunate I have such brilliant friends who would come out with me.

"I had one shift where I lost a 43-year-old and when I got out at the end of the day the first thing I wanted to do was swim.

"It gave me somewhere to get away from the stress of it all.

"Getting out there and swimming makes you feel alive and appreciate what you've got."

Wenda's enthusiasm for open water swimming is one that lasts all year round, even in the freezing cold winter months, when wind chill and bad weather can make swimming outdoors a far less pleasant experience.

She added: "In the past, my daughter Abbigael and I have had to break the ice at Loch Thom to get in for a dip.

"I know it all sounds a bit mad, but we take all the necessary precautions to make sure we stay warm and have someone looking out for us.

"I've been swimming most of my life, but I only started open water swimming four years ago.

"I dread to think what I would have been like these last months if I hadn't had that place to escape to.

"It's a truly unique experience and it's been of enormous help to me personally."