Now that summer is here, it’s time to embrace the (slightly) warmer weather and get open water swimming. As an exercise, swimming is fantastic for your health, but going out in cold water brings even more benefits. More and more people are flocking to lidos and ponds near them to satisfy their thirst for open water swimming, and new spaces are popping up in answer to the demand. Rivers and beaches in the UK are, broadly speaking, also cleaner than they’ve been for 150 years. It’s a great time to give it a go, just make sure it’s safe to do so and swimming is permitted where you choose to dip your toe.
Read our favourite benefits of open water swimming:
1. It’s good for your soul
The BMJ published an article on open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder, where a young lady reduced, and eventually came, off her medication after her weekly cold water swimming sessions.
We can see why. The serenity of swimming in the beautiful lakes and rivers around the country is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It’s difficult to think about anything else when you’re dunking your head under for the first time.
2. Better than caffeine
There’s no better wake-up than the shock of a full body submersion. The cold water jolts your body into action, delivering sharper focus and increased energy, so you can save that morning coffee for warming up afterwards!
3. It’s a mini digital detox
A quick look around on your next run, walk or visit to the gym and you’ll see that 90% of people are plugged into something. You can even watch Netflix on most treadmills now! Wild swimming can give you a much-needed break away from any screens, headphones or emails before getting on with your day.
4. Cold water builds mental resilience
There’s no question, cold water definitely isn’t for everyone. It is easy to get hooked on how invigorating the cold water is, and the feeling of satisfaction doing something that few other people are brave enough to try. If your goal is to do something that scares you every day, then leaping from your comfort zone into cold water will satisfy that. It is scary… but so worth it.
5. And physical robustness!
Regular exposure to nature and water is great for building up your immune system, and as long as you come prepared to warm up quickly afterwards, the cold won’t do you any harm. Cold water also raises your levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps regulate antioxidants in the body, which reduces your risk of heart disease and cancer (Source).
6. You’ll improve your swimming
The body is great at adapting to routine, and although repetitive laps of your local pool are great for maintaining fitness, adding in additional stresses of open water swimming supercharges your session. Wind, tides, and simply not having sides to push off every 25m puts your body to work in ways that are difficult to replicate in a pool environment. It is also a great deal more interesting searching out a new spot for the first time, or simply being spontaneous and swimming when the opportunity presents itself. Websites like Wild Swim are a great resource for local wild swimming spots, and there are bound to be plenty near you.
There are so many opportunities for wild swimming in the UK, and as long as you are taking adequate precautions to stay safe you can enjoy open water swimming well into autumn.
Join us in July for the Talisker Whisky Coastal Challenge, a fully supported open water swim at the beautiful Lee Bay in Devon.
Come on in, the water’s lovely….