Hi everyone 👋
Fancy dipping your toe into the world of swimming outdoors? We asked Much Better Adventures to share a handy guide, to inspire you to take the dive. And we thought that for our Summer on the O2 Community, you would be more than interested in seeing this as well!
Taking a dip in a lake. Making the mad dash into the North Sea in March. There is something oddly attractive about swimming outdoors or, as it’s often known, wild swimming.
Wild swimming is, to all intents and purposes, going swimming outside in a natural pool of water. That pool might be at a bend in a river, or it might be the sea. The important thing is that there are no man-made structures. You decide if you want salt water or fresh water. It’s the kind of activity that an older generation would roll their eyes at and say, “When I was your age, that was just called swimming!” And they wouldn’t be wrong.
Swimming in rivers and lakes is very popular in Europe, although wild swimming has become a bit of a buzz word in the UK (rather like wild camping). Not that that means we don’t think it’s a fun thing to jump in a cold tarn or dash into the ocean. In Europe, it’s very normal to see people floating down the wide Swiss rivers in the summer, with specially made float bags, or going for their morning swim in the local river. In the UK it seems to be more of a solitary sport. A way to head out for a quiet bit of personal time with nature…and probably a chance to get very cold.
If you, like many people, have never been wild swimming you might be wondering why anyone wants to do it. Particularly with the lovely picture we’ve painted in the UK of cold and wet and lonely. Well, we could speculate. But instead, we went out and asked some wild swimmers to tells us in their own words.
Lindsey Cole, best known for walking the Rabbit Proof Fence and swimming dressed as a Mermaid, says, “It makes us feel alive. When I’m feeling sad it makes me feel better. When I’m feeling fine it makes me feel like the love child of She-Ra and Indiana Jones!” Many others said a similar thing – about making them feel invincible. “It makes every cell in my body feel alive, like I’m the most awake and present in my body I’ve ever been,” said Aoife Glass.
Then there’s the challenge. Serial wild swimmer Phoebe Sleath explains: “Because if I can get myself to swim in the North Sea in March, then I can do anything. Because when I tell my friends I want to go swimming and I see the look of disbelief on their faces, I know I need to prove them wrong. I guess it sounds crazy and it puts me in a group with the wild and the adventurous.”
Other people have found wild swimming helping them in times of illness. “Due to chronic pain,” said wild swimmer Nicola, “I can’t do much else at the moment. It’s been a real lifesaver over the last few months. It boosts my mood and a lot of the enjoyment is down to the community. I love my swim friends and feel part of something again. I’m more of a dipper and cake-eater swimmer.”
Feeling inspired to take the plunge? Read on for top tips on equipment and wild swimming destinations.
Fancy taking a dip yourself now? Or are you already an avid wild swimmer?
→ COVID-19 support - Help and support from O2 during the lockdown
→ Access for You: Registration - Find out how to register for our Access for You service.
→ Just joined the community or thinking of registering? Check out this handy starter guide!
→ Have a query about your account? login to My O2 for help
If you'd like to take part, why not register?
I can't say I've ever been wild swimming @TheresaV although I have,over the years been to wild places and taken a dip in lakes and lochs. I haven't done anything in the extreme cold though.
It must becoming more popular now as I have watched a TV programme where elderly people are doing this more and more. As you pointed out they all say it makes them feel better. Particularly interesting to see at least 3 with severe arthritis taking the plunge in early morning misty cold lakes and swimming strongly and without pain.
Excellent idea if it improves your health and sets you up for the day.
*The Game Is On*
Ah there you are! @TheresaV thought you had got the bug and gone wild swimming!
I was brought up by the sea and it is lovely. No one went swimming in the winter. Cold water is very dangerous for those who have not exercised for some time, not fit or have heart or other health issues ~ fresh water is harder to swim in if you are not experienced in swimming.
I was taught to respect all water especially the tidal sea and never swim alone go with someone who knows where you are. Cold water has an initial shock and of course you can get severe cramps.
This romantic notion that wild swimming is healthy surprises me, don't see how it could be unless carefully considered.
Swimming is a great exercise : I support safe swimming for health and exercise
It is nice to swim for health and body exercise in a swimming pool safely. I have been a swimmer inside and outside but never in a lake, reservior or river. You need to know the sea tides where you go swimming and the danger points too.
Thank you Theresa for this topic so interesting.
Having learned to swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, my first 'wild swim' at age 8 or so was to be chucked off the side of a boat into the crystal clear waters around a small islet called Filfla - the water must have been about 8 or 10m deep, and I had an inflated car-tyre inner-tube tied to the boat with a length of rope to hang onto.
Clear water, warm sunshine, a mask and snorkel and flippers were de rigeur most days from May to September, at least once a day. Not sure if that is "wild swimming" though?
I've even swum in a freshwater lake in Germany, again in the summer though - quite refreshing, and a popular spot for local sun-worshippers 😉