Outdoor and wild swimming has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
When you see the length of the queues and the crowds in the water at your local swimming pool whenever the sun comes out, the attraction of the peace, space and freedom of open water becomes obvious. Outdoor swimming can be a wonderful activity for all the family and at all ages, so long as you take appropriate precautions and understand the hazards.
1. Remember, except for lifeguarded beaches, most outdoor swimming spots are unsupervised so you have to take full responsibility for your own safety.
2. Compared to your local pool, most outdoor swimming spots will have colder water. This may cause cold water shock and may reduce your ability to swim as your muscles cool down. Therefore, always enter the water gradually and stay within your depth with your head out of the water until you feel comfortable with the temperature.
3. Before entering the water, ensure it is easy to get out again!
4. Also, before entering the water, make a note of any hazards such as the current, jagged rocks, sudden changes in depth and underwater obstacles.
5. Consider swimming in a wetsuit, which will keep you warmer and prevent you from sinking.
6. Consider swimming with a towable floatation device. This will help other people see where you are and also give you something to rest on if you get cramp.
7. Never swim alone.
Around the UK there are lots of semi-secret places to swim.
Luckily, these places have been discovered and shared in several wild swimming
books and also online on the wild swim map. Any of these are excellent sources
of information for swimming spots. Once you’ve got the bug, you can become more
adventurous and start poring over maps for bends in rivers and other blue spots
that might mark potential swimming locations.
If you’re looking to take your first steps into open water, Outdoor Swimmer has produced a free “Escape the Pool” guide.
Sadly, people drown in open water every year, so do please treat the water with respect, stay within your limits and never mix alcohol and swimming.
Find out more about open water safety.