A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO WILD SWIMMING

So you want to try wild swimming? A great choice, if you ask me!  It is a liberating feeling, soothing your muscles, giving you a boost of happiness, and even firing up your immune system. And guess what? It’s not just about the thrill – it’s an incredibly convenient way to explore the outdoors no extra gear required. I also feel it quiets the mind, something I often need. And here’s a gem: wild swimming is like a digital detox in the heart of nature. 

Wild swimming is good for us:

Wild swimming isn’t just a refreshing dip in nature’s playground; it’s a whole package of goodness for our body and mind. Here’s why taking the plunge into natural waters is incredibly beneficial:

  • Physical Health Boost: Cold water immersion triggers an immediate release of endorphins, those happy hormones that leave you feeling elated and recharged. This natural high can ease stress, improve mood, and even act as a natural painkiller.
  • Enhanced Immune System: Regular exposure to cold water has been linked to boosting the immune system’s functionality. It’s like a workout for your body’s defense mechanism, making you more resilient against illnesses.
  • Muscle Recovery and Relaxation: The chilly water helps soothe tired muscles, reducing inflammation and aiding in recovery after physical activities. It’s like a nature-made spa treatment!
  • Cardiovascular Health: Cold water stimulates blood circulation as your body works to stay warm. This can help improve heart health and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
  • Mental Clarity and Mindfulness: The immersive experience of wild swimming brings you into the present moment, disconnecting you from the digital world and allowing you to fully enjoy the serenity of nature. It’s a form of mindful escape, something I think really can help a lot of us (myself included).
  • Improved Sleep: Cold water exposure may promote better sleep by regulating your body’s temperature and promoting relaxation.
  • Stress Reduction: The combination of cold water’s physical effects and the soothing ambiance of natural surroundings can work wonders in reducing stress and anxiety levels.
  • Mental Resilience: Regularly challenging yourself to embrace the cold can lead to increased mental resilience, pushing your comfort zone and fostering a sense of achievement.
  • Community and Connection: Wild swimming often brings people together, creating a sense of camaraderie and connection with fellow enthusiasts, which can contribute to your overall sense of well-being.

Remember, while wild swimming has numerous benefits, safety should always be a top priority. Make sure to choose safe and clean swimming spots, be aware of water conditions, and follow recommended guidelines to fully enjoy the rewards of this activity.

So, whether you’re a local water baby or an urban dweller seeking serenity, this is your call to dive in. But where to start? Any river path, footbridge, or open-access land near water could lead to your watery haven. I have previously lived in the English countryside, which meant a lot of river dips, but now I am back living on the coast, I find myself more in the sea or tidal pools. Find what suits you in whatever area you are living in.

And don’t forget – our body adapts to the cold, making chilly swims much more comfortable. Say hello to reduced stress, a stronger immune system, and a rush of joy.

Prep by taking a brisk walk to warm up, brace yourself for that initial chill, and let the invigorating embrace of cold water works its magic. Trust me, the more you dive in, the less you’ll feel the cold, and the more the health benefits will embrace you.

Here are 12 tips for your first wild swim:

  1. Choose safe and clean water bodies.
  2. Skip dipping during floods or droughts.
  3. Always check and know the tides first if you are sea swimming.
  4. Beware of blue-green algae.
  5. Never swim alone; buddy up, or join a local wild swimming/dipping group.
  6. Test water depth and watch for obstacles before jumping.
  7. Know your exit before you dive in; better yet, find a way to walk into the water.
  8. Keep warm with a walk before swimming.
  9. Footwear = confidence, so bring it along.
  10. Watch out for boats on navigable rivers… wear something bright (swim cap maybe) if you want to stand out.
  11. Pack some warm socks and a dry robe if you have one (before I had a dry robe, I used to take my dressing gown…I know it seems weird but it worked and kept me warm!)
  12. Snacks, always pack snacks! And a flask of tea or coffee 🙂

Any questions, drop a comment!

Happy dipping,

El x

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