The struggles and strains of modern-day life; domineering bosses, screaming kids, and demanding partners make us search out and seek solitude, comfort, and more often than not, just good old fashioned fun.
Swimming is a popular distraction and a therapeutic tonic for many looking to revitalize and recharge from the rigours of life.
Often though, as is the case with many things in life, the idea and novelty of swimming in a pool are often greater than the actual experience itself.
Communal changing areas and standing practically naked in front of complete strangers can be quite off-putting in this body-conscious world.
Swimming lengths back and forth in a chlorine-filled chamber of echos is often not as relaxing as the gym brochure may have suggested.
Indoor swimming is rigid, sterile, and unimaginative; reasons why a growing number of people are cancelling their gym membership in exchange for the no limits, thrill-seeking adventures of natures meandering rivers, lakes and seas.
What is Wild Swimming?
Wild swimming is simply the age-old art of swimming outdoors in rivers, lakes, rock pools, the open sea, even into the traverses of dark, unexplored caves.
You are not confined to the limits of a modern, manmade structure but open to the wondrous possibilities of nature, a boundless world full of adventure, full of the unknown, full of novelty.
Roger Deakin – Wild Swimming Hero
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We're having our second heatwave of the summer here in the UK so what better reading material than Roger Deakin's account of swimming across the country? Inspired by a John Cheever short story (The Swimmer), Deakin set off on a watery voyage across Britain. A blend of history, autobiography and nature writing, Waterlog also captures a unique perspective of the UK on the cusp of a new millenium, before the internet took over our lives completely and summers were still unpredictable affairs.
The art of wild swimming was popularized by the brilliant writer Roger Deacon in his book ‘Waterlog’. Roger travelled the UK countryside swimming in its wild waters, lounging lakes, and serendipitous seas.
Roger spoke of the intrinsic value of swimming in wild waters, the natural calming effect, the adventure, and the unmistakable flora and fauna that surrounds you.
The kingfisher diving into the water, the trees filtering speckles of light, the rocks and pebbles, the birds with a different song in both day and night.
An abundance of life that we often forget exists, as we dwell in structures impervious to natural bliss.
The simplistic beauty of being in nature, moving with the current, our worries replaced by the ebbing and flowing of the sparkling, glimmering water.
Wild swimming offers more than any google search under the terms, wellness, peace, and mindfulness ever could.
The blue sky above reflected in the often murky unknown depicts life's metaphor of the known conscious world and the dark unknown subconscious.
This very elucidation is why artists and city escapers alike are attracted to the wonderful outdoors of wild swimming.
Wild swimming is not exclusive as it accepts both the poor and the rich but it does come with its dangers.
Dangers of Wild Swimming
The very obvious danger of wild swimming is that there is no lifeguard present. You must know how to swim and trust in yourself. Going with another person is ideal for greater safety.
The duality of life is reflected where calm waters can quickly turn to fast rapids. Background checks on unknown places are always a good start.
Challenges to Wild Swimming
Even in the heart of summer, the wild waters of the UK can be frightfully cold as low as 10° to 15°. It is well-advised that swimmers wear wetsuits to circumvent this cold.
Cold showers leading up your venture into the wild will prepare your body and offset the cold shock response your body may feel.
Go With the Flow
In our age of helicopter parents and helicopter governance, we can forget that we are animals who flourish in wild environments.
Start in a shallow river in a wetsuit and slowly graduate to complete nakedness in deep oceans to feel the effect water has on every receptor in your body.
This mirrors the very state you first arrived in as you swam for 9 months in the waters of your mother and later progressed to the wild waters of mother nature.