Adventures, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Wild Swimming

Wild, but not swimming…

There is something I have discovered recently which has really opened my mind to new ‘wild swimming’ opportunities.  It is a simple shift of perspective, a change of approach that I wanted to share so that others can enjoy the benefits I have been experiencing all year.  Put simply, I realised earlier this year that you don’t need to actually swim to have an enjoyable wild swimming experience…

Is it a ‘dip’ or a ‘swim’?  Does it matter?

Last year I had the Dart 10k to train for and this shaped the requirements for my swims; wetsuit on, goggles on, swim buoy ready, head to open water and have a long steady swim.  But, after finishing the event and in the absence of a further training goal, I found myself put off by the effort of heading to suitable venues, kitting up and putting in the miles.  I’d lost my mojo…

But I missed the water.  This, combined with my growing interest in the benefits of cold water immersion led me to a different approach.  This may seem like a complete contradiction, but this year almost all of my wild swims have involved very little actual swimming.  I’ve started calling them ‘wild dips’ and they have become my go to hydrotherapy sessions.

Swimming, Sunlight, Smiling
A lovely dip…

They are extremely straightforward; I head to a venue, strip down and get in the water for a while.  Full immersion is ideal but, in the absence of a requirement to swim, that can still be achieved in a much wider range of waterways than before.  Sure, if there is room to swim I put in a few lengths or laps, but the aim is not the exercise of swimming but the health benefits of being submerged in cold water, alongside the joy of being in a natural environment.

expanding your wild swimming to venues where there isn’t much room to swim opens up new opportunities…

The benefits of a cooling dip…

If you fancy learning more about the benfits of cold water immersion I suggest reading into the ideas put forward by advocates such as Wim Hof or, if you prefer a more scientific approach, perhaps the National Centre for Biotechnology Information.  Or just consider the cultures around the world that have a traditional health practice which involves some form of routine cold water dip or swim, such as Japan, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia.  Putting the science aside, I certainly always feel great after a dip…

Make things simple again…

Letting go of the complications of the gear associated with a proper swim and expanding your wild swimming to venues where there isn’t much room to swim opens up new opportunities.  No wetsuit or goggles with you?  No problem.  Found a small but deep pool on a mountain walk?  Just take a quick dip.  River looks inviting but not deep enough to swim?  Just lie down in it and literally ‘chill out’ for a while…  It sounds really simple because it is, and I’ve found that by embracing ‘wild dips’ I’m in the water more often and exploring new and interesting places.

A quiet corner of the river...
A quiet corner of the river…

So, if you have a love of wild swimming but find yourself in a rut of kitting up and going to the same locations, maybe you too can add a few dips to your routine to get in the water more often and in more places…

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