Last June it was so hot that we decided to cut our planned bike ride short and go for a swim in the sea at Robin Hood's Bay.

Wild swimming, as it is now called has enjoyed increased popularity in recent years, with more and more people braving the elements in the hope of accessing some oth the desirable health benefits. Cold water therapy is not just considered great for sports recovery, some gurus like The Iceman (Wim Hof) claim it is also linked to improved quality of sleep, more focus, and even an improved immune response.

The ‘safe season’ is generally considered to be between Wednesday 15 May and Thursday 30 September when water temperatures are a little warmer.

Wild swimming and cold water therapy is all the rage in the UK, but how do you get started? Before heading for a wild swim it is important to do some research into water safety.

What is wild swimming? Wild swimming is essentially swimming outdoors in natural spaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea.

Is wild swimming safe? Swimming outdoors is a great way to connect with nature but some basic safety precautions must be taken.

How to stay safe wild swimming Open water is usually cold and may be very deep. Lakes can be incredibly deep, rivers fast flowing and there strong tides can be slippery and hard to climb.

  1. Choose a safe location

Pick an area designated as bathing waters where water quality is checked and it’s a recognized as a safe bathing spot. Don’t go alone always take a swim partner.

  1. Gauge the depth

Edge in slowly to avoid cold water shock and any branches and rubbish may have been swept downstream.

  1. Don’t get too cold

Outdoor swimming scan cause your core body temperature to cool down, so build up your tolerance to the cold by taking cold showers starting with 15 seconds to 2 minutes to get your body used to the cold. Keep outdoor dips short.  Five or 10 minutes can be long enough and If you want to stay in the water for longer use a wetsuit.  Get out of wet clothes quickly and dry off using a wet robe or down coat.

Hypothermia comes on gradually. You may start to feel excessively tired. These are early warning signs. If your teeth start chattering or you’re starting to shiver then get out of the water, dry yourself, put on some dry clothing and do some light exercise to heat your body back up - a walk is enough.

Countryfile Guide to Wild Swimming Safely


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