Outdoors swimming with floats in the river Thames

Simon Griffiths on the Joy of Open Water Swimming

By Alex Guerrero

Simon Griffiths is the founder of Outdoor Swimmer magazine. He lives and breathes swimming. In the pool, training for triathlons and masters races. Or in the Thames, resetting and recharging with his cold water community. We had a chat to him about what makes wild swimming so good. Here's five reasons.

"I could swim in that!"

Cold water swimming is empowering. When you get in the water, all you can think about is the fact you're cold. All you can focus on is the swim. But afterwards, you realise you can cope. You leave with a massive sense of achievement. Start the day a little braver. And when you spot a patch of blue, you think, "I could swim in that".

Embracing nature

After the pandemic, I started swimming all year round. It pushed me to pay attention to the natural environment. To the phases of the moon, sunsets, sunrises, water levels. Swimming through the seasons gave me a connection with nature which reminded me I can embrace it. Not hide away from it.

Keeping mentally and physically healthy

Pool swim training keeps me fit. In writing my book, I learned that cold water swimming is like a vaccination of stress. It protects you from other stressors in your life, too.

But both indoor and outdoor swimming restore such an overall sense of wellbeing in me.

Finding community

I've been swimming since I was a kid. I've made friends at the river, in swim clubs, on swimming holidays. I've met all kinds of interesting, like-minded people I can share the hardest sessions and the coldest dips with.

Bigger than the sum of its parts

Cold water swimming is nothing new, but it got such a boost of popularity thanks to the pandemic. What makes it so special, though? Is it the cold? Nature? Water? Camaraderie and community? Doing something against your instincts?

I'm convinced that it's the combination of all these factors that make it so amazing. You could take a cold shower, but it's just not quite the same. Put simply, it's bigger than the sum of its parts.

simon griffiths swimming underwater

Simon's new book, Swim Wild and Free, is out now. It's the ultimate practical guide to get you swimming outdoors, 365 days a year.

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