A Pembrokeshire woman who solo swam the English Channel on Sunday has spoken about how cold water swimming saved her life.

Makala Jones set foot on French sand on Sunday, July 9, having battled tides and jellyfish to swim the channel in 16 hours and 25 minutes.

Western Telegraph: Makala sets foot on French sand after more than 16 hours in the water.

A competitive swimmer as a child, Makala started sea swimming eight years ago.

At the age of 48 and in her words ‘overweight with two dodgy knees and a dodgy back’ and suffering from depression and anxiety, a friend persuaded her to enter a triathlon.

She completed it and entered another but still feared getting in the sea, especially without a wetsuit but swimming with the Bluetits helped her overcome this.

It also helped her manage a bout of serious depression and her children credit the cold water with keeping their mum alive.

In a moving video shot by Jake Aldred, Makala explains: “I was in a place where nothing would fix [my mental health]. I was completely numb and quite dead inside.”

She described a day dropping her children off at school where she didn’t think that she would see them again.

“I was number than I had ever been before. I was watching them go [the kids] and something was just telling me that that was the last time I was going to see them.

“I remember getting into the car and everything was very calm, very still, very motionless.

“That was when I thought I need to sort this out. I need to do something about this.”

For Makala cold water swimming was a key part to her recovery.

Western Telegraph: Tha amazing Makala Jones after solo swimming the English Channel.

“The water for me is like a physical therapy,” she says. “It’s a reset button. Getting into the water you are so concentrated on that water and the laughter and the joy.

“Get in that water, reset that button. I scream, I laugh, or I just get in and float.”

Makala says that she has gone from having an occasional good day to now just having an occasional bad day among the good days.

“I can only put that down to getting into cold water,” she said.

Makala says that five years of being a Bluetit has helped her so many ways, giving her the confidence to see a counsellor, and to change her path.

“I was hooked from my first [Bluetit] swim,” she said.

“I had a clear head, no thought of anything other than ‘wow it's cold, breathe breathe’.

"A quiet mind is not something I could ever remember having, I just knew was going to help me heal.

Western Telegraph: Swimming in Sunday's sunrise.

“When I get out of that water I am back to that five-year-old little girl who has no worries in life, all she wants to do is play.

“Then I’m ready to go on with my day and do whatever I need to do.”

To find out more about cold water swimming with the Bluetits Chill Swimmers, visit the website linked above or search for your local flock on Facebook.