If you had asked someone ten years ago what ‘Wild Swimming’ was, then they would have looked at you in a confused way.
People only really pursue outdoor swimming in the warmer months and in countries that border warmer waters like the Mediterranean. But in recent times in countries in Northern Europe, and particularly Britain, people take to the icy waters regularly. So, just why would they put themselves through this?
What is Wild Swimming?
Wild swimming isn’t some crazy new technique or outlandish pastime. It is merely the practice of swimming in the great outdoors. It is about reconnecting with nature and swimming in the wild. There has been a boom in the number of people taking part in outdoor swimming lately. Various books have been written, and numerous societies and groups have been established. Whether you live in the countryside or city, as long as you have access to a river, lake, pond, icy stream, or the sea, you can participate. There are even inner-city groups in cities as big as London. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. You can always find swimmers out there.
Why not give it a try?
There are many reasons to try wild swimming: it is a sociable activity, it can take you to beautiful and untouched places, it has benefits for your health and, above all, it is free!
There is a vast network of groups across Europe that all swim regularly, many of whom have a presence on Facebook and other social media sites. If you can’t find one near you, why not start your own?
There are thousands of beautiful places that are perfect for wild swimming, and it is a great excuse to get out there and discover stunning spots you may not have known existed. Or it can be an excuse to take a step away from the stress of the city and be in the tranquillity of nature for a moment.
It has been proven that wild swimming has impressive health benefits. Not only is it a great way to exercise, but it also stimulates circulation, has positive effects on mental health and is shown to reduce anxiety and stress.
In fact, swimming is so beneficial as an all-round body workout that many sports stars balance it with other ways of entertaining themselves mentally; one of the most popular cerebral past times for them is playing card games. Football players like Gerard Piqué and Cristiano Ronaldo are some of the sports personalities interested in these types of games; in particular, poker and the rules (that they seem to know quite well) are favourites. Both of these stars have even joined some of the most important PokerStars events. Swimming is the perfect supplementary exercise for these mental workouts, and some personal trainers claim that it is one of the most beneficial methods of training for those whose job is related to a sport.
Let’s not forget, Wild Swimming is also free! For those of you that like to save your money for other things, this is the perfect hobby to take up. It is healthy, rewarding, and you don’t have to spend a penny on it. In turn, this gives you many more chances to invest in other things.
What equipment do you need?
It is totally up to you. It all depends on your tolerance of the cold and how long you intend to stay in the water. Some people are comfortable swimming in cold water and can handle a swim in a regular costume. Others will sport wet suit shoes and gloves to keep the extremities warm, and others (generally longer distance swimmers) will use a full-body wetsuit.
You need to feel comfortable and understand the threshold of your own body and, most of all, respect the water you are swimming in!
If you are swimming in open water (like the ocean), then you have to consider such safety requirements as knowing the tides and currents of the water in the local area. Also, being aware of boats, making sure you are visible with a safety buoy, and not swimming too far from the shore if you are not a confident swimmer.
After all, it is named wild swimming for a reason, and your safety should always be paramount. Find a group, choose a location, get the right kit, and test the water. You won’t regret it!