There have been many unexpected upshots from the pandemic, one of which is the rise in open water or wild swimming in the UK. You would think, for a nation so preoccupied with and plagued by the rain, that it wouldn’t be big step to be fully submerged in chilly lakes, streams, sea and natural swimming pools. Yet at no time has cold, open water, or wild swimming been more popular than it has in lockdown.
“According to Outdoor Swimmer magazine’s annual report, searches for the term “wild swimming” – which refers to “swimming (or dipping) in rivers, lakes, pools, the sea etc; typically in more out-of-the-way locations with no lifeguard supervision,” according to magazine founder Simon Griffith – increased 94% between 2019 and 2020.”BBC
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why this fitness pastime has gained traction over the past 18 months. In a bid to get outside during lockdown, find ways to exercise that don’t require a gym or close proximity to other people, wild swimming has joined walking and running amongst the top fitness trends of 2020-21.
Of course, it isn’t a new phenomenon. The benefits of bracing waters have long been heralded by cultures around the world. Anyone who has a passion for the sea will know the liberation that comes from a dip – and if we’re going to go wild swimming, what option do we really have in the UK other than to embrace the cold?
Well, aside from being a comparatively simple concept, assuming you have access to a suitable swimming spot, wild swimming is cheap alternative to heading to a heated indoor pool. There’s no cost for jumping in the sea – just the means to get there and appropriate swimwear. It’s also a great way to explore the great outdoors, whether you’re getting to know your home area better or exploring holiday destinations from a whole new perspective. Lots of people have found it to be beneficial for both physical and mental health as well.
“There are physiologically-based hypotheses that suggest that swimming regularly in cold water results in a cross-adaptive anti-inflammatory response. This is beneficial because some mental health problems [such as depression] are thought to have an inflammatory basis.”Vogue
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