I have only great things to say about my experience with Wild Hebridean Swimming Retreats. From the first introductory Zoom call with Emma until finally meeting face to face on the first day, no question was too much trouble and all the information we would need to prepare for the retreat was provided. Along with the lovely additional surprise of a locally sourced hamper of goodies delivered to my house! What a fantastic added touch!

Our retreat group was small, but perfectly formed and made up of a mixture of experience and open water swimming levels. Emma accommodated everyone’s needs and provided a schedule of open water swims, yoga, massage and sightseeing. The swim spots that Emma took us to were absolutely stunning and it was brilliant to meet local open water swimmers too at these beautiful locations. To add to this the food from Anna was out of this world!!! 

For me personally, I went on this retreat to get some open water swimming experience ahead of competing in my first ever Olympic distance triathlon. Emma was brilliant in guiding me through my open water swimming and coaching me to improve my technique, even going the extra mile and squeezing in a technique coaching session in the only swimming pool on the island.
Overall a fantastic experience with a fantastic company, would highly recommend!!
Rachel, June 2023
A really big thanks for a great holiday and new experiences. Loved it.
Willie, July 2023
This retreat was the best thing I’ve done in years! Emma has such a warm friendly personality and her confidence, knowledge and capability made me feel thoroughly safe and secure in all situations we encountered in the water. The retreat was a truly exhilarating experience and I learnt a great deal about myself and all the different aspects of wild swimming. It really opened my eyes and I would recommend it to anyone!
Lucille, June 2023
So pleased that I booked onto the beginners course, concerned on the frosty morning & the feeling of being in cold water, but I enjoyed it so much & felt amazing to try cold water whilst wearing a woolly hat! Thank you to Emma for supporting us & giving lots of reassurance on how to enter cold water. The Lido is run very well & friendly staff. 😁
Had a super time today, thanks Woburn Lido for running this and to Emma for her excellent coaching.
I have been part of Emma’s swim squad for about 18 months now and cannot believe how much I have progressed! I’ve coincided squad sessions with interim 1-2-1s and video analysis. This has kept my technique tweaked and my fitness levels optimum for open water racing. The variety in the squad sessions from pure technique where you can really hone in on drills, to endurance, CSS training and open water skills has given me an all round comprehensive training schedule.

I’m now pushing the boundaries with each event, increasing distances and feeling confident about doing so.  I’ve just completed the Dart 10K in a fantastic time; something I wouldn’t have thought possible 18 months ago.
I’ve been swim training with Emma for nearly two years and have seen my swim times tumble and my stroke improve dramatically. I would recommend her coaching to beginners and competitive swimmers alike. Emma plans her swim sets around the needs of the swimmers attending her sessions and aim to get the best out of all of us. I am now nearly 4 minutes quicker over 1900m than I was two years ago thanks largely to Emma’s coaching. Since starting training with Emma I’ve twice qualified for the GB middle distance triathlon age group team and now, instead of being one of the last out of the water, I’m right in the middle of the pack. I hope Emma continues her Saturday morning swim squad for many years to come!
In July I had an amazing 5 days in Mull with Wild Hebridean Swimming. Each swim was different and special. We dipped in fairy pools under waterfalls, swam off secluded beaches and even explored Fingal’s Cave! Emma is friendly, helpful and sensitive to all the swimmers’ needs. Achaban House is the perfect base and we were well fed with delicious home cooked, locally sourced food. A wonderful trip for swimmers. 
Jane, July 2023
Thank you for such an amazing trip. I have had a fantastic time. Mull is so beautiful. I hope to be able to return to some point. 
Sarah, July 2023
Had the best time on Saturday morning, it was my first experience cold-water swimming  left feeling relaxed, spent 25 mins in the water and best I’ve felt in months! Thank u
Thanks for a great 2pm session! Loved it and now feel confident to come again.
An exhilarating experience run by a super team. If you have any doubts about trying this – don’t! Just do it
Now my first Triathlon season is drawing to a close, I wanted to say a massive thank you for all of your help. Since starting your swim squad sessions in January, my swimming has improved massively. I got into the pool having not really swum for about 15 years (and before that it was irregular at best) and constantly felt like I was drowning. The other weekend I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon with a swim time of 24:03 and was in the top 15% of my age group for the swim.

I always look forward to the sessions and you manage to make the hour fly by. There is really good variety and you always tailor the session to the group. Your observations and advice on how to improve my technique have been invaluable. Thank you again for all your help
I am really enjoying being part of a squad again. Thank you for helping me to get back my love of being in the pool again, the Wednesday lunchtime sessions are now a real high point in my week!
Dear Paul, I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to tell you that I had my first session with Emma MacDonald in St Albans yesterday. It was absolutely brilliant and it’s remarkable what a difference an hour can make! She is a lovely lady, knowledgeable, kind, thoughtful and hugely positive. Even though it’s an hour away from where I live I’m going to join her swim squad and go along every couple of weeks. I had a lump in my throat at the end of the session yesterday because we stripped away so much negativity that I’ve held onto for the last two years based on other people’s feedback. I feel so much better about my swimming! I am newly inspired and confident and now finally able to to understand my Finis tempo trainer which has been gathering dust in a cupboard for a whole year as an added bonus!
Thanks so much to you and Emma. Hope to see you soon Emma!
I learnt to swim 7 years ago for my first triathlon and swimming remains my weakest and least favourite discipline. However, despite this Emma manages to make every session enjoyable, even if hard. Her patience and ability to juggle all abilities is great and I believe that the 7am sessions in a 50m pool throughout the winter have played a big role in maintaining my winter swim fitness. I really do miss them when they are not on!
I can’t say enough about how incredible Emma and the Wild Hebridean Swim Retreat was!  It was such an amazing experience. The location itself is just stunning – the beaches, the scenery, the clear turquoise sea – it’s beautiful.  And the food was amazing!
As someone new to open water swimming, Emma was a game-changer. She made me feel comfortable and confident, and her coaching did wonders for my front crawl technique.
The added bonuses of massages and yoga really added to the relaxation of the retreat.
The 5-day retreat managed to be both action-packed and relaxing at the same time. It was the perfect balance.
If you’re even considering it, I highly recommend going.  It’s an experience you won’t regret!
Deb, June 2023
Thank you Emma, I loved every minute of it! Thank you for being such a lovely host. Until we meet again.
Julie-May, July 2023
Really enjoyable. Felt great afterwards. Thank you.
Super session this am! Still grinning 😁 Great intro to cold water swimming – how to prepare, what to expect when in, how to plan getting out, what not to do. Def hooked and looking forward to a lake swim Thank you Emma 😊
Before my first beginners lesson with Emma I could swim a length front crawl – but I was exhausted once I had reached the end of the pool and had to stop to catch my breath for a while. I couldn’t understand why as I run, cycle, play sports and have a good level of fitness. Emma examined my stroke and quickly worked out what was wrong (pretty much everything!). Over the ensuing weeks we did drills and I learnt how to swim front crawl properly. She is patient but demanding and really got the most out of me. A few of months after my lessons finished I went on to complete the Half Ironman in Weymouth – in no small part thanks to Emma!
Taking a break from competing this year, it has been really good to still attend Emma’s squads to keep my eye in and maintain swimming fitness. The regular discipline of a weekly squad has been really good, and being in a group and with a supportive coach means that I practise drills that I’d never be able to do on my own in a million years! The sessions are always fun and I always leave the pool feeling glad I went.
Hope to see you soon Emma!
Taking a break from competing this year, it has been really good to still attend Emma’s squads to keep my eye in and maintain swimming fitness. The regular discipline of a weekly squad has been really good, and being in a group and with a supportive coach means that I practise drills that I’d never be able to do on my own in a million years! The sessions are always fun and I always leave the pool feeling glad I went.
Hope to see you soon Emma!
I used to dread swim training, I struggled with balance and breathing which made my strokes hurried and ineffective. I was exhausted at the end of every session and failing to improve.

Since swimming with Emma I’m comfortable and confident in the water – breathing comes as naturally as, well, breathing and I’m far more efficient – meaning I’m not exhausted half way through the set.

I really feel that I’m in a good position to start working on improving speed and endurance. At my age improving in a sport is really good fun.

Whilst I can’t say I relish getting up at 6am on cold winter mornings – by 8am I’m done and I’ve earned my weekend….
Thanks so much for the help and motivation.