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Wild Swimming

Updated: Sep 24, 2023

As a personal trainer, it's my mission to find enjoyable ways to stay healthy and to incorporate exercise into daily life.

In order to prevent boredom, it's important to try new activities, or to try a new spin on an existing activity that you enjoy. 

I love swimming, and used to go very frequently in my late teens. Then, in my twenties when I started my career, and then began having children, the swimming dropped off the radar. Yes I would take the children swimming or to lessons, or to paddle in the sea or the stream, and whilst it's all enjoyable, it's really not the same thing.

Around six or seven years ago, I became really interested in the idea of wild swimming.  I vowed to try it one day, but was held back by a lot of fear. I don't like the idea of not knowing what's it the water, not being able to see what's going on, and the notion of being so small and vulnerable in the middle of an expanse of deep water. I talk more about my fears in episode two of my new podcast, so please do check it out.

I am encouraging clients to push their own boundaries, to reach new levels, and to overcome inner fears and negative self talk. And yet, here I was, unable to contemplate getting into open water for a swim. It seemed hypocritical somehow. Also, I really really wanted to try it.

So, a few months ago I started to research local wild swimming venues. It was important to me to be able to go somewhere safe, in respect of water quality and that it had been tried and tested. Open water does pose risks - as we know, there are several tragic stories in the press every year about losses of life, often young people, who enter the water believing it to be safe and get caught unawares. I didn't want to be a statistic, especially with five dependents, so I needed to do this in the most sensible way. 

I discovered Midland Open Water Swimming and had a look on their website.  I noticed that there are open water swimming lessons available and felt this would be a good place to start.  Although once I looked at the recommended / essential kit list, I got in a bit of a many types of wetsuit available to buy online...which type to choose?

So, I emailed the venue and asked for their advice. They said to make sure I buy a swimming (not surfing) wetsuit and that medium thickness should be fine. 

More time elapsed as I sought out a wetsuit to buy. I didn't want to spend too much money just in case I didn't return to the activity. Luckily, I spotted a bargain in the sale and decided to go for it. 

I made sure that I prepared the kit list, as suggested by their website. (You can hear more about how I selected which kit to take in my podcast, linked at the end)

Even though I am a strong swimmer, and swim indoors regularly, I decided to book a wild swimming lesson because I have certain fears around open water (which I talk in more detail about in my podcast linked at the end).

The lesson was a great help and Dawn the instructor allayed my fears.

I found the experience of being in the water to be wonderful. Yes there were moments of uncertainty, due to my fears, but Dawn gave me some excellent techniques to help me to focus on the moment and stop my mind from wandering. I am the one with the pink float in the photo. It was nice to go as a group and I felt a sense of safety in numbers.

The day I went for my lesson was incredibly hot (28 degrees), and the water was warm. You can see how far out into the lake we swam. I did actually swim back to shore and take my wetsuit off to try in just the bathing suit which was nice to feel the water on my skin.

Thank you to Jules from Midland Open Water for capturing these images. Again you can just about see my pink tow float bobbing next to me, doing it's job and showing where I am. Tow floats are a safety feature because it's not always possible to spot a swimmer, with the light and reflections on the water. Of course, a bright hat really helps too.

I have booked to go again at the end of this week, in the hope that the water might be a little colder because there are health benefits linked to cold water swimming, including:

  • Boosting your immune system

  • Increasing endorphins

  • Boosting your metabolism

  • Helping to reduce pain and inflammation

  • Increasing your libido and supporting fertility

  • Improving mental health

  • Helping with menopause symptoms

  • Soothing your vagus nerve

(please read the full article from CWS here)

After the swim, I felt so relaxed and chilled. My mind actually went blank, which is a great thing because I really struggle to switch off and my mind is usually buzzing with things I need to do, and I find it hard to live in the moment. Wild swimming forces you to live in the moment because you need to concentrate on what you are doing right there and then. It's a mindful activity. This was me after the swim, looking calm and happy.

Based on my experience, I highly recommend wild swimming. I am so glad that I went for it and put my fears aside. It's opened up new doors, and I met some wonderful ladies in my lesson, and we have all now kept in touch, intending to swim together again and again.

Please listen to episode 02 'Wild Swimming' in the Live Yourself Better podcast series to hear more about my wild swimming adventure and for some hints and tips to help you on your personal journey.

If you have been wild swimming, or would like to go, or find that my experience has encouraged you to overcome your own fears, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

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