Hi there, I’m Valerie Farber, a long-time swimmer who came to the water for meditation and stayed for the athletic challenge and sheer adventure. I am passionate about sharing and helping others with open water swimming, both for physical as well as mental support.

As a swim instructor, I specialize in helping beginner and fearful adult swimmers find comfort, self-confidence, and freedom in the water.  I was trained as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) and have taught lessons through Asphalt Green, Imagine Swimming, Seattle Parks and Rec, as well as my own company, AquaKula.

I currently teach private adult lessons off Brighton Beach for those moving past fear to swim in the ocean, learning open water swim skills, or refining their stroke technique in the gorgeous “big blue”. You can access my calendar and sign up for a lesson below.

I also teach two group classes in the summer through my CIBBOWS community. Intro to Open Water gives you the basics and best practices for open water swimming. And the Learn to Love Ocean Swimming session focuses on acknowledging, navigating, and befriending anxiety/fear in the open water.

Regardless of age, ability, ailment, sentiment, goal, or skill level, I would be honored to support you in your ocean/swimming journey!

Valerie helped me refine my strokes, get more comfortable with breathing, and has given me the confidence in my swimming skills. The ever-present, low-level sense of panic I had whenever I was in the ocean is no longer there, and I now enjoy being in the water. “

– Shannon B.

Want to listen to my journey to the open water in-your-ears and on-the-go? Check out this podcast interview I did with Yvonne of Late Bloomer Living… Episode 141 Pushing Past Fear …otherwise, keep reading!

May I tell you about my journey and relationship to the sea?

It began as one born out of necessity and became a full-on love affair.

While I have always been passionate about swimming, I have never been an ocean gal.  I was afraid of the waves and sea life and disliked the beach with the relentless sun.  Pools and mountain lakes were my steady go-to’s as a child and through my adult years.  It was not until the summer of 2020 that I ventured to the beach (via CIBBOWS), carrying all my fears and anxiety about the big, wild blue.

I went kicking and screaming yet…determined. Swimming has always been my anchor in my mental health. When the pandemic hit and pools went away, I knew I needed to find a different solution. The ocean was the only thing available, so I armed myself with open water swim basics to keep me safe(r) and dove in.

It took about a year of practice with loads of curiosity, self-compassion, and supportive community. There were a few mid-swim panic attacks in those 12 months. There was pushing too far and backing off to find a (more) comfortable spot. There was navigating continuous discomfort and surprise conditions as there is no controlling that big ocean – you get what you get and have to deal. There was learning about new creatures sharing the water; how to keep them safe; how to keep me safe. There was surrendering time and time and time again.

Until something miraculous happened….I fell in love.

Finally, I felt the magic and mystery of open water swimming and loved that I could have a different adventure each time I entered the vast unknown. I still felt scared but fed it with larger doses of curiosity and the confidence that if I kept surrendering and adapting, I would stay safe.

I continued to push myself bit by bit…swimming solo past the long jetty… to the white building…amidst large, choppy waves, etc.

I became curious about the small group of winter swimmers that pushed on, regardless of water or air temperature and conditions. So I pushed myself a bit further as well, completed my first winter season in 2021, and fell deeper in love.

Presently, I swim year round in the waters off Brighton Beach or anywhere I can access. In addition to being a fun adventure, it keeps my head clear and focused, healthy and resilient. Without doubt, the lessons I learned in those first, uncomfortable 12 months have carried through my entire life. I see the ripple effects in how I deal with day-to-day adversity and navigate relationship struggles. I’m grateful to myself, my community, and the ocean every day as my life has changed completely for the better. And now, I find nothing more fascinating and calming than moving with a living, breathing body of water. What a glorious surprise!

Curious about where I’m swimming next?? Follow me on Instagram. Here are a few pics from the Finland/Sweden Arctic Circle Swim excursion in 2023…

July 2023 | Arctic Circle Swim, Finland/Sweden 1.8 miles, Torne River | water temp 64F
July 2023 | Rogue excursion, Lake Torne, Sweden | water temp 44F

Gold Beach, Vashon, WA
One of my forever favorite swim spots, Gold Beach off the shores of Seattle, WA.