Wild Swimming Guide: everything you need to know

Wild Swimming Guide: everything you need to know

By Alex Guerrero

We’re joining the army of wild swimming lovers. It’s one of our favourite ways to be brave, get in touch with nature and reset. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really, really should. There’s nothing quite like it.

Our Outdoor Swimming Guide

  1. What is outdoor swimming?
  2. What are the benefits of outdoor swimming?
  3. What kit do I need to take to go outdoor swimming?
  4. What time of year is best to go outdor swimming?

What is wild swimming?

What is the difference between outdoor swimming, wild swimming and open water swimming? Not much! Typically, they’re all about swimming in natural waters – lakes, tarns, reservoirs, rivers and seas. No lanes. No ropes. No supervision.

The term “open water swimming” is most often used for competitive sports. But “outdoor” and “wild” swimming are used to describe leisurely dipping, floating, and swimming… Lovely.

What are the benefits of wild swimming?

In short? There are so many. The Wild Swimming Brothers even found 50 reasons to start wild swimming! But we thought we’d give you just a few:

What it does for your head

  • It puts you at water level and allows you to experience the natural world on nature's terms
  • It causes a decrease in cortisol and other stress hormones
  • It removes the frustration of the dreaded swimming lane traffic
  • It's uninterrupted time to clear your head and be mindful

What it does for your body

  • It improves your ability to manage the cold
  • It boosts the immune system, increasing your white blood cell count. The cold water acts as a mild antagonist, activating and training your immune system
  • It soothes any vestigial muscualr aches
  • It's exciting! You're in an envrionment you're not used to, adding a bit of fun to your regular activities

What it does for your heart

  • It instils a sense of adventure in you
  • It enhances your awareness and knwoeldge of biodiversity
  • It's hard not to smile and laugh
  • It's a bonding social activity

What kit do I need to go wild swimming?

Not all swims require kit lists. Some of the most memorable ones are those last-minute-skinny-dips. But if you fancy being more prepared, here's our checklist:

What time of year is best to go wild swimming?

Whenever you want to! You can swim all year round. But if it’s your first foray into the world of wild swimming, easing yourself into a late summer is probably best. You need less kit and warming up after is less of a challenge.

The sea generally fluctuates less in temperature. It stays between 12°C and 17°C for most of the year. Water gets nice and toasty in September when it’s had all summer to warm up. On the other end of the spectrum, some water can get really cold. Like, really, really cold. Below 5°C is officially considered ice swimming!

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