November 08, 2022 2 min read
Outdoor swimming - or wild swimming as it is called by some, has increased dramatically in popularity.
There are wild-swimming holidays, cold water books and swimming groups popping up of likeminded individuals coming together to swim. Even the BBC recently created an extreme reality show with Wim Hof - where celebrities were challenged to plunge into icy water to help them face their fears.
So why are so many people turning to outdoor swimming? There are of course the obvious reasons - it is a cheap form of exercise! But, increasingly there seems to be a social side to wild swimming. Camaraderie amongst swimmers, taking a dip together and then sharing a flask of coffee as they dry off. Not something you would necessarily associate with a trip to your local swimming pool.
Benefits to outdoor swimming
There have been wide discussions about the health benefits of cold water. Extreme cold athlete - Wim Hof, has claimed that spending time in cold water and deep breathing contributes to better health.
There is currently a study being undertaken by Portsmouth University on whether cold water can help those with depression. We're interested to see the outcomes of the study - could it really have an effect? There have also been studies on the effect of cold water on the immune system. So, there seems to be a lot of scientific research into the benefits of a cold dip!
Where to begin?
If you're looking to start outdoor swimming, take some time to do your research. Check out safety advice from RLSS There is a huge support network of outdoor swimmers, and it is quite easy to find a group to swim with. It is worth swimming with a group, who will hopefully be knowledgeable about where they are swimming. They should also be able to offer advice on water temperature - and of course offer safety in numbers. It's really important to know your own limits, and don't swim alone.
Basic equipment for outdoor swimming
Invest in a brightly coloured swim hat - especially if you are swimming where there may be boats, or surfers. Always remember a tow float. This acts as a marker to other water users. We really like these tow floats, but there are lots of brands to choose from! A tow float is also a dry place to store your keys, and in an emergency provides buoyancy.
Wetsuit boots are great for keeping feet warm - and protecting your feet as you get in and out of the water. Wearing a wetsuit, we think is a good idea if you're new to cold water swimming. We know it's a bit of an investment, but if you're not sure about a full wetsuit have a look at wetsuit tops.
Remember when you get out of the water, to have something warm to wrap yourself in. We love our changing robe! Pack a flask - we recommend hot chocolate. And a good beanie hat which really does help warm you up fast!
So, do you indulge in an outdoor swim? We'd love to hear about your experiences!