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Discover Wild Swimming

viewswithlou, shares the benefits of wild swimming and stepping outside of your Comfort zone

Published on: 17/10/2023 

 

Back in early 2023, social media influencer and adventurer extraordinaire viewswithlou (Louise) visited Go Ape Margam.

She had great fun and, since she’s an adventure expert, we bent her ear and asked if she could tell us more about how she lives adventurously. Here she shares her passion for one of her favourite outdoor activities… wild swimming!

As a native Brit, she fully accepts the cool to frigid nature of homeland waters and believes that the benefits can be worth a bit of temporary chilliness.

Read on to learn more about how she got into wild swimming, some of her favourite spots and important safety precautions to take.

Lou wild swimming in river

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Where’s home and what’s been your adventure playground for the years?

 

I'm a Yorkshire born lass, and lived in Leeds for the majority of my life but it's definitely not known for its amazing hiking locations. I did start my outdoor journey doing long walks in and around areas of Leeds however they were relatively flat and weren't challenging after a while, so I then headed to the Peak District, which then stemmed into the Lake District, North Wales and eventually up to Scotland.

What exactly is Wild Swimming?

To me, any outdoor swimming including a lake, a stream, a waterfall can be classed as wild swimming. The difference for me is whether it's a dip or a swim depending on the depth of the water, but I'd say as long as you're outside in a body of cold water then you're wild swimming.

How did you get into Wild Swimming? What got you hooked?

My friend messaged me asking if I wanted to give it a try, and I was a bit sceptical at first and didn't think it was something I'd want to do, but I'm so glad I gave it a go. I've had the bug ever since! The feeling afterwards is quite addictive and I now really like the extra challenge of trying to find new hidden places to go for a dip, which in turn allows me to explore more of the country that I probably wouldn't have before.

Stream in between hills in North Wales

For those first timers considering wild swimming, what would you say to them? And, what are the benefits?

I'd recommend starting during the summer months, the water is still cold enough to get that adrenaline rush but warm enough for you to give it a go and see if it's something you would like to continue doing.

It's also really important to understand the dangers of cold water and cold-water shock. I wouldn't recommend trying this by yourself in the beginning, I would always say go with somebody in case of any accidents or emergencies, plus it's always fun experiencing the outdoors with your friends.

It gives you a chance to forget about everything for those few moments, and allows you to concentrate on right here right now. The feeling once you're back out and warm again is incredible, and I get such a buzz afterwards. 

How do you handle the cold water?

Take it slow, again there is little to no education on cold water shock and although there are many benefits to this; there are also many dangers.

Some days I can be in for 20 minutes, other days I can be in for 2 minutes. It doesn't matter how long you're in for, you can still benefit from it. Don’t feel like you have to stay in for a certain amount of time, everyone is different, and everyone can deal with different temperatures of water.

For me, getting my hands into the water is the hardest part, so purchasing some neoprene gloves and shoes makes it a little bit easier. I don't ever just jump into the water when I'm first getting in, I take my time and allow my body to adjust to the temperature, and when I feel I'm ready I take a deep breath and swim in. 

Rocky stream in the hills surrounded by lavender

Any advice on kit to buy and things to pack when going wild swimming?

 

    1. A changing robe for the Winter
    2. Microfibre towels for the Summer.
    3. Swim shoes/socks for 3 reasons:
      • Additional grip for stability, rocks can be very slippery underneath the water,
      • Additional layer of heat, I didn’t realise the difference it made in cold water having wet shoes on vs not.
      • In case of any discarded litter or broken glass, or sharp rocks that you can't see, it adds a layer of protection.

What are your top three wild swimming spots?

Any advice you’d give to others based on your experience?

On top of the other bits above, a rule I stick to is when I start to shiver, it's time to get out.

Remember to enjoy the experience, it can be really hard getting into cold water and sometimes I end up not getting in because I'm just not feeling it that day, and that's okay. 

Don't go outdoor swimming alone. There's lots of groups on social media for like minded people wanting to try things like this so that you don't have to do it by yourself. It's a lot more fun when you go with friends but it's also a lot safer to go with other people.

Want to learn more about wild swimming or get some more adventure inspiration? Head across to viewswithlou's Instagram page or Youtube

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Wild swimming spot at sunset