Why do people love Wild Swimming?

Outdoor swimming or wild swimming as it's also known, is a great way to kick January blues and blow away the cobwebs! Cold water swimming has become increasingly popular over the last few years within western culture. With people like Wim Hoff becoming celebrities over night, it seemed, with something they have been doing for decades! Cold water swimming is extremely beneficial for mental and physical health. Even doctors are recommending cold water swimming as a therapy and natural remedy to help cure illnesses like depression.

The benefits of wild swimming

  • Increase's mindfulness and wellness
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases Libido
  • Gives you a natural high and awesome sense of achievement
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Burns calories - even after you get out the water!
  • Great for Socialising

You don't have to live by the sea to go outdoor swimming. You can find a lake, river or swimmable reservoir near you. If none of those options are at your disposal a cold shower or creating a dip pool in your garden is also a great way to embrace the elements and reap some of the benefits this intense hobby brings.

Read more about how you can help people suffering with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness here >

wild swimming art print


We spoke to some members of the Open water swimming UK Facebook group to find out why they love it so much.

"My favourite place to swim in Kent (where I’m based) is Bewl Water, it’s the largest body of water in the South East and is a fantastically run by my friends at TriSwim. My favourite places to swim in Cornwall are the Gazzle because it’s so wild & unpredictable, and the tidal pools all along the North Coast, on my annual winter trip to Scotland, I love to swim in the Lochs around Aviemore with a friend who has local knowledge. All these places are so different yet familiar, cold, yet delicious and after all it doesn’t matter where you go because swimming is swimming!" - Camilla Gollege

"I swim off the coast in North Wales all year round at a location 5 mins from my home I swim with 1, 2 maybe 5 people on a special day. I especially love the walk in. Slow but purposeful. The sinking of my shoulders under the water.. the view out to sea that brings the vastness of everything in and the ever-changing skies. I love the cold. The cold is why I do it. the achievement that a strong woman can put her mind to something out of her comfort zone. I particularly love a sunrise or moon rise to swim at one with our glorious world." - Sian Roberts

"I had never swam in cold, open water. I was so in awe of the women who did, it was a love letter to them, those brave wild women. Less than a month later, in mid December I took my first swim at Porth and immediately fell in love... The strong women that are in my life are reflected in my work. Memories of my mum swimming with me in the Mediterranean Sea. The way someone’s hair blows in the wind, the cheeky sparkle in their eyes, as they plunge in to ice cold water with no fear. To come to the surface laughing. To stand on the beach looking at the sea in complete calmness when 10 minutes before she’s been panicking about how she’s going to juggle work, kids and keep the house clean. Those breathtaking women I see in my everyday life very much influence the people in my work." - Lu Cornish

swimming sisters artwork by lu cornish 3 ladies facing away looking at a lake in bathing suits


"My name is Hazel Fulker, I am a open water coach, athlete and ambassador for the RNLI and teach all ages to swim, the reason I mentioned what I do is because it’s hard to say as I just love the water and helping people learn and enjoy getting into it, one of the magical places is Bewl reservoir, and also Camber Sands where the dramatic dunes and tough currents make for a stunning back drop ,especially when the kite surf lot are out. I am hoping to put a help the hero’s swim on soon and various other workshops"  - Hazel Fulker

Joining a local swimming group is a great way to socialise as well as challenge yourself mentally and physically. Immersing yourself in a freezing cold pool of water helps physical illnesses such as damaged muscles and ligaments. Doctors are now also starting prescribe swimming in the ocean as a way to help with mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Most people feel rush of endorphins for hours after they've been in the cold water. 
my pain and inflammation is fixed with vitamin sea
"We swim on the south coast…We laugh, hysterically, put the world to rights. Feel high for the rest of the day and pain and inflammation is fixed with vitamin sea more than any medication… nearly 2 years in… LOVE LOVE LOVE IT… 60th birthday dip coming up." - Nikki Fuge "I started open water swimming in July and have kept going. I find it hard to put into words how it makes me feel, and each place and swim is different. I suffer from chronic pain and this can affect my mood and outlook. The effect of being in nature, the freedom of movement in water, and the community all work together to reduce inflammation. There is a sense of achievement, a sense of release, a sense of adventure. I have only swum in a few places, but at the moment this is my favourite." - Ruth Scott
sunset in winter over a lake landscape scene
Photo by Ruth Scott
You can easily join an outdoor swimming group near you through searching Facebook and online. Large groups such as Open water swimming UK is a group who want people to feel comfortable and confident about sharing their swimming and cold dip adventures. This group doesn't want people sharing the water temperatures and the length of time they spent in the water, this ensures positivity posts and non-competitive community. If you are a female beginner looking to take up wild swimming The Blue Tits groups based all across the UK coastline are also a great place to start.
outdoor swimming card
What do you need to start outdoor swimming?
In all honesty there's not a lot you do need, essentials would be some water and yourself. Many people take part in outdoor swimming at different levels so if you want to wear a wetsuit or a swimsuit feel free to do either. If you want to ease your way into the sport you can stock up on the following.
  • Wetsuit or bathing suit
  • Gloves - optional
  • Wetsuit shoes - optional
  • Swim hat or wooly hat - optional
  • Dryrobe or towel (for after)
  • Sugary snack and warm drink (for after)


see more wild swimming cards and art

Disclaimer: Please note this blog is not written by a doctor or medical professional. Please consult your GP before taking up any extreme sports you're not sure about.

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