There’s no truer antithesis of us all being cooped up for months on end than wild swimming, which is perhaps why it seems to be the new outdoor activity everyone is talking about. But what exactly is wild swimming and why are more and more people happily plunging themselves into icy water?
Wild swimming, as it’s come to be known, is nothing new, but this traditional pleasure’s popularity is growing exponentially. It is, essentially, swimming outside in a natural pool of water, whether that’s in the cool waters of lakes and rivers, the open sea or, if you’re lucky, a hidden waterfall. And it’s not just for fun - the health and psychological benefits of dipping in natural waters are widely recognised. Cold water immersion is proven to boost your immune system, improve your circulation and give you a natural hit of endorphins which is great for improving mood, all while connecting with nature in a magical escape from modern living.
"The natural high you feel when slowly submerge yourself in a natural pool of water in beautiful surroundings is unlike anything else. It doesn’t cure everything, but it certainly makes you feel refreshed, invigorated and calm albeit rather chilly!”
Cold water swimming can also be whatever you want it to be, a year round pursuit which washes away stress, a way to meet a new community and make friends, or a simple summer dip whilst exploring new places. There are endless guides to the best wild swimming spots and joining a local swimming club, or the Outdoor Swimming Society is a great way to stay safe and swim with fellow wild swimming enthusiasts. The only real must, alongside being mindful of safety, is being a confident swimmer. Not necessarily the fastest, because wild swimming tends to be more dipping than swimming, but definitely confident. We love going in gradually, allowing ourselves to slowly acclimatise and be immersed in the experience and surroundings. You can build yourself up to a full swim with cold showers and toe dipping.
STAYING SAFE WHILE WILD SWIMMING
We appreciate wild swimming sadly isn’t accessible to everyone, but for those wishing to explore the pursuit please do so safely. Wild swimming can be dangerous, especially to those who are not confident swimmers and who have not followed appropriate guidelines.
- Research your swimming spot carefully using a trusted source.
- Never swim in canals, urban rivers, stagnant lakes, reedy shallows or floor water.
- Never swim alone and encourage weak swimmers to wear a life jacket.
- Plan your route out of the water, and lay out clothes and a hat ready to get dressed quickly once you’re out.
- Avoid contacted with algae.
- Do not jump into water, unless you have checked depth and obstructions. Enter the water slowly and allow yourself to acclimatise.
- Wear swim footwear if possible, and a coloured swim hat making you easily identifiable is recommended if swimming in any navigable river.
- Swim at a pace and depth you feel comfortable with. The cold will significantly decrease the area of water you can cover.
- Don’t get too cold. Warm up with exercise before a swim and once you’re out and dressed use gentle movement to warm up slowly before rewarding yourself with a cup something warm.
So the final question that remains is, are you going to take the plunge?! We would love to hear about your wild swimming plans and pursuits.