Fitness / 08.12.2014

How do I do…wild swimming?

By Rosalind Ryan
Can you picture yourself swimming the English Channel? Give wild swimming a go

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Ever since that scene in Pride and Prejudice when Colin Firth emerged from a lake in a wet shirt, we’ve all become a little bit obsessed with the idea of swimming outdoors. Our rivers, lakes and coastlines are said to be cleaner than ever and with water temperatures often reaching a pleasant 20 degrees on warm days, there’s never been a better time to give it a go.

Who can do it?

You don’t have to be the most advanced swimmer to have a wild swimming adventure, but no matter how fish-like are, you should never go alone. As exciting as secret swimming spots can be, they also come with potential dangers. If you’re on a remote beach, make sure you’ve checked tide times and currents before diving in. And always stay close to the shoreline.

What are the fitness gains?

Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming (£16.99) and Wild Swimming Hidden Beaches (£16.99), says that all wild swimmers experience a natural endorphin high that boosts mood and excites the senses. ‘It helps you communicate with nature and is a bit meditative; you’re so immersed in it, you forget all your worries.’ That includes fretting about the perfect form: wild swimming is more about adventure than technique.

Swimming in cold waters has also been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce fat disposition, inhibit blood clotting, increase fertility and libido, aid muscle recovery and help you to burn calories faster. Do you need any more reasons to try it?

Not convinced by the cold waters? Consider joining a netball team instead

What kit do I need?

Although you might be tempted to go au naturel and swim in your birthday suit, it’s not recommended. If you’re just planning a short dip wear a swimsuit or your underwear, but if you’re going to be in cold water for an extended period of time, you should consider wearing a wetsuit.

Where do I start?

If you want to start exploring, there are several wild swimming groups on Facebook divided by region. You can also search for the perfect first wild swimming spot near you on Wild Swimming’s or Outdoor Swimming Society’s websites. Once you’ve got your spot sorted, simply head there with your swimsuit and prepare yourself for a chilly dip. As Start says, ‘However the world seemed before a wild swim, it always looks fantastic afterwards.’

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How do I do...wild swimming?
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How do I do...wild swimming?
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Healthy explains everything you need to know about getting into wild swimming.
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Healthy Magazine
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