Throughout the chaos that we have all experienced over the last couple of years, it seems that we are each slowly getting better acquainted with our own personal needs and making more time for the things that matter most. For some, lockdowns have forced us to be more creative with our downtime and chivvied us into action when it comes to switching off and doing something for ourselves. Despite the cogs slowly starting to move once more, we hope you’re still able to maintain some moments of calm.
Wild Swimming has grown in huge popularity in recent years, so if this is one still to tick off your bucket list, we’ve gathered together some spots worth exploring, as well as a few top tips to follow before taking the plunge!
Here are some top spots that Team Piglet have ventured to over the summer:
- Frensham Common and Ponds, Farnham
- Hampstead Heath Ponds, London
- West Reservoir in Hackney, London
- River Stour in Fordwich, Kent - conveniently located next to the Fordwich Arms Pub
- The Warren, Hay-on-Wye, Wales
- Farleigh & District Swimming Club, Bath
- Lancing and Ferring Beach, West Sussex
Things to bear in mind -
#1 Seek out a safe spot
Though your local river may look particularly appealing, it’s important to do a little recce before you dive straight in. Checking the current before taking a dip is really important. Throw a stick into the river, if it floats off faster than you’re able to swim, it’s best to avoid this spot.
Before you head out for a swim, ensure that you are aware of where your exit is. In case you need to get out of the water quickly, it’s important to know your best route for a swift escape should you come into any potential trouble - be mindful of slippery rocks at the water's edge too.
Try to avoid diving or jumping into unknown water. It’s important to get a sense of the water’s depth before you dive or jump in, in case of any large hazards you’re unable to see from the water’s edge.
#2 Don’t get too cold
Might seem an obvious one, but very important to mention! As I write this, we’re currently experiencing rather lovely temperatures here in the UK and so, if you’re new to this pastime, this season may be the best time of year to ease yourself into the water.
This hobby is by no means exclusive to the summer, but outdoor swimming spots are often on the chillier side, so zipping yourself into a wetsuit before your skimpies, may well be a safer bet! Ensure you have a warm fluffy towel and plenty of cosy, dry layers to change into once you’re out of the water. And perhaps a flask of hot chocolate!
#3 Swim with friends
Not only is it safer to have a swimming buddy, but enjoying another’s company whilst going for a dip is good for the soul! If your pal isn’t into this hobby like you, then let someone know you’ve gone for a solo swim and take a bright tow float, or wear a brightly coloured swim hat (ravishing, we know) so you can be spotted by walkers.
If you’d rather company whilst you swim, there are plenty of regional wild swimming groups to get in touch with, to organise meetups and accompanied swims. You can join the Outdoor Swimming Society too - it’s free to join and hosts several events across the country, throughout the year.
Once you’ve sought out a safe spot, whether that may be a lake, river or the open sea, get ready to take the plunge! There are so many benefits of wild swimming and cold water submersion. Those who have experienced it say it helps to realign their mental and physical health, not only providing relief from trauma of recent years, but any long-term effects the body may have experienced. It aids recovery, relieving aching muscles, reducing inflammation and potential pain around the body. It’s also been shown to help boost immunity and reduce blood pressure too - sounds like we could all do with a dip!
The benefits roll into aiding mental health too, helping to manage stress and anxiety, increasing one’s clarity and helping to release endorphins. Wild swimming not only gives an opportunity to connect with ourselves, but also our surroundings. There are endless benefits of spending more time in nature, this is just one of many ways to reconnect. Now, we might not quite be at Wim Hof levels just yet, but certainly up for a challenge and to try something new, especially given the extensive pros this hobby has to offer.