“You have to be in the middle of the water flow and take the sample about 10cm under the surface. They’re big bottles and when they’re filled they’re quite heavy.”
When she swam 47km along the River Cleddau, in Pembrokeshire, it wasn’t the plastics that that proved the only concern. She became ill and believes agricultural slurry running off the banks into the water caused her stomach bug that forced her to stop swimming for a week.
“At one point, I was swimming along, and cow pats were floating by so that wasn’t very pleasant.
“There is supposed to be a 10-metre buffer between the agricultural land and the river, but that’s not very much at all when there has been a lot of rain.”
Cow pats aside, Laura – whose life as a swimmer and environmentalist is captured in the film “Hydrotherapy” which is featured at the festival – has certainly not been put off the open water.
The current pandemic may have slowed the completion of the national parks research, but it has not slowed interest in her swimming across the sporting world.
“I have taken out a lot of triathletes this year for instruction classes,” adds Laura, who works alongside Dr. Christian Dunn, a senior lecturer at Bangor University.
“They are normally super- fit but sometimes they get a bit scared in very cold water. Maybe it’s because they’re a bit younger and haven’t got any blubber to support them, but they end up loving it once they get used to it.
“That’s the thing about swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea. It’s very addictive.”