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My name is Paula “Must Try Harder” McGuire, and from April 2018, I will attempt to become the first person ever to swim all the way around mainland Britain.

This would be a challenge for anyone to complete but, for me, it’s the culmination of a very personal struggle to overcome the anxiety and phobias that controlled me. For 30 years my life spiralled ever inwards as anxiety took over and I closed the world out.

When I hit rock bottom, I knew I needed a drastic change, and that change led me on some amazing adventures, and has given me the opportunity to share my experiences in a TEDx talk, a newspaper column, and in an upcoming book about my life.

Having firmly re-established the ability to leave the house, the next step in my journey will involve leaving that house for six months and spending most of my time in increasingly smelly rubber wetsuits as I swim round mainland Britain.

On this adventure, I will be in the sea, swimming multiple shifts each day as I splash from Land’s End, up to John O’Groats, and back round the other side to Land’s End again.

I’ll be supported in this adventure by an amazing woman, Maria Brennan,  who will become the first woman to Kayak around mainland Britain too. I’ll also have a boat and land crew who will support me whether I’m shivering on land, or shivering at sea. Either way I’ll be shivering, but having strong support from people like Maria, and my sponsors, means that at the end of the adventure I’ll be shivering only with excitement as I near Land’s End in late 2018.

I’m so grateful to sponsors, YHA England & Wales and the Scottish Youth Hostelling Association for providing me and my crew with accommodation as we travel the coast of Britain – at least I know we’ll always have a shower and a warm bed for the night.

It’s going to be the most challenging six months of my life, but for a girl who once couldn’t even open her front door, it’s also going to be the most incredible!

Written by Ruby Higton

Here is Ruby and she is a digital marketer at YHA. She looks after all things social media, as well as content writing for and SEO. Her favourite YHA is YHA Perranporth.

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