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What’s all this stuff about “wild swimming”

(37 Posts)
Notcontent Wed 05-Aug-20 14:53:06

I have seen references to “wild swimming” over the last couple of year but wasn’t sure what it was all about. However, I was recently talking to a friend, who was being very enthusiastic about wild swimming, and it seems that this just means swimming in rivers, lakes, oceans etc - anywhere that’s not a pool. I have swum in many lakes and oceans but I didn’t realise that I was doing “wild swimming”...

It’s a bit like “vegan leather”... there must be lots of examples of these new labels.

OP’s posts: |
EBearhug Wed 05-Aug-20 14:57:58

I think it's to distinguish it from pool swimming, but in my childhood, it was just swimming in the sea, or in the river, or wherever. I am an experienced swimmer, and like swimming in the open air, but not when the sea is particularly wild...

cheezy Wed 05-Aug-20 14:59:38

But what is vegan leather?

EBearhug Wed 05-Aug-20 15:08:14

Vegan leather is a fabric which looks like leather, but is in fact some sort of plastic, so no animals are harmed in the process, other than in terms of pollution (not that leather tanning ever did well there, but leather is biodegradable in the long term.) However there are also other vegan leathers made from things like pineapple leaves or other fibrous plant materials.

BikeRunSki Wed 05-Aug-20 15:10:04

Wild swimming is still swimming though.
Vegan leather is not leather at all!

I love outdoor not-in-a-pool swimming.

Branleuse Wed 05-Aug-20 15:10:36

yes thats all wild swimming is. Its nothing new, its just swimming in seas rivers and lakes rather than artificial pools

Lurkingforawhile Wed 05-Aug-20 15:11:56

I think they tend to mean non-sea swimming. Also somewhere without lifeguards and other people! lots of lakes now have swimming courses which I wouldn't call wild swimming. Alice Roberts did a lovely program about it they repeated recently.

BobbieDraper Wed 05-Aug-20 15:14:56

Its like "wild camping". Its just to distinguish the styles.

Swimming could mean pool, lake, ocean, loch, river. But when you say "I took the kids swimming" people assume a swimming pool. So you can say wild swimming, and people know what you mean.

If I say "I'm going camping" people ask me which campsite so I have to then say no, just driving to a nice spot and pitching the tent. So we say wild camping.

Beamur Wed 05-Aug-20 15:17:23

Wild swimming is thought to have various other beneficial effects on health.
It's good fun. There are various groups as it's not advisable to go alone really but some places are sadly getting a bit overrun as it's become very popular.

Ohfredcomeon Wed 05-Aug-20 15:18:59

‘Out door not in a pool swimming‘ is a bit of a mouthful though.

Wild swimming is just a quick phrase to distinguish the difference.

Wild swimming is just basically swimming outside in natural bodies of water. See, lakes, rivers ect..

Wild swimming literally pulled me through lockdown. I find it much more enjoyable and exhilarating that pool swimming. You can’t beat it if it’s your thing.

Lots of facebook groups where you can find secluded lakes and swim in the most beautiful surroundings.

wanderings Wed 05-Aug-20 15:37:44

I love wild swimming. However, it is a problem when certain spots become too well-known. I have Daniel Start's book "Wild Swimming", showing the best places in England, but some places have now become unusable once the landowners have cottoned on.

WhoWants2Know Wed 05-Aug-20 15:41:29

Out of curiosity, what health benefits would it offer over swimming in a pool?

There's a lovely mill pond that I've been swimming in, but I always worry a little about rats and leptospirosis.

cosmicpassages Wed 05-Aug-20 15:44:19

You can get some information online but be cautious, I was about to recommend one website but then I saw it recommends Gullet Quarry as one of their favourite places to swim but it's one of the most dangerous as it's got very steep sides, it's very deep and obviously very cold and there have been drownings there in recent years.

I'm not a fan of the author of 'Wild Swimming', he talks about 'Nature Deficit Disorder' as if it were a medically recognised condition.

safariboot Wed 05-Aug-20 15:46:10

It used to be called open water swimming. "Wild swimming" seems like a neologism to try and make it trendy.

kerfuffling Wed 05-Aug-20 15:46:24

'Wild swimming' = easy way to catch Weil's disease.

PoppedTheHipAgain Wed 05-Aug-20 15:48:12

I've done it off and on since I was a kid. Also skinny dipping at some, but not when there's people around.

Watch for blue-green algae, if you're going to do it.

I'd swim in the sea often if I lived on the coast, I find breathing in the chemicals at swimming pools is detrimental to one of my chronic conditions.

More people have looked into it recently because of lockdown.

CMOTDibbler Wed 05-Aug-20 15:51:27

Wild swimming in the open water swimming community is usually used to refer to swimming in an uncontrolled body of water - sea, lake, river but not like a swimming pond or round a course in an organised way. Wild swimming may also be more about enjoying the water and not doing fast, head down swimming

Sarahbeans Wed 05-Aug-20 15:52:08

Yeah, wild swimming is open water swimming. Although, near me there are some lakes that have memberships and people sign up to swim there. There's designated times / places for swimming Whereas wild swimming is more for free and unregulated.

We live local to one of the top ten wild swimming places in the book / on the website. On a hot day, there is easily 100+ people there. Thankfully the site is huge so it's easy to social distance. HAs been a godsend during lockdown.

BikeRunSki Wed 05-Aug-20 15:55:20

Alice Roberts’ Wild Swimming Programme

There is a school of thought that believes that immersing yourself in cold water stimulates an increased immune response. I just find it very invigorating and far more refreshing than swimming in a pool.

DipSwimSwoosh Wed 05-Aug-20 15:56:59

It's not a new term. I was given a book on wild swimming in 2010. It just means unlifeguarded I think. And the cold water has lots of health benefits, yes. You just need to google it. (Google 'cold water therapy', that's another new term you may not like OP! It means 'getting into cold water for health benefits').

AlwaysLatte Wed 05-Aug-20 15:58:55

We swim in the river near to us rather than a pool, but I didn't realise it was wild swimming - I thought that was more inaccessible places.

Hardbackwriter Wed 05-Aug-20 16:01:52

I agree that I think it's a bit wanky. As a huge lover of swimming not in a pool I tend to call it 'open water swimming'. Wild swimming has been around for quite a while as a term, though

Hardbackwriter Wed 05-Aug-20 16:06:13


'Wild swimming' = easy way to catch Weil's disease.

92 people in the UK got Weil's disease in 2017, one to three die each year and almost all cases are linked to people who are expose through work rather than leisure. Giving that swimming in open water is more or less the best thing in the world, I'll take my chances!

lljkk Wed 05-Aug-20 16:08:26

Some people reserve 'wild swimming' to mean fitness swimming rather than having a fun wallow. I find insisting on that distinction silly, but so be it. I am going tomorrow to a river for a fitness swim. There is a long list of nasty germs in the river, no doubt. Please don't swallow any water during your wild swims, gals.

CherryPavlova Wed 05-Aug-20 16:34:44

I have swum all my life. Outdoors is much, much nicer than indoors. Wild/open water is much, much nicer than even Lido.
Weil's disease is a minimal risk in moving water.
The experience of swimming in a Lakeland Tarn, the River Dart or the Solent in November is beyond exhilarating. It has huge health benefits for both mental and physical health and a much better preventative for all sorts of illness than tablets.

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