Wild swimming is becoming an increasingly popular outdoor pursuit. With many of us leading fairly sedentary lives in urban environments, wild swimming allows us to get in shape and to get back to nature at the same time. There are many things to consider when going wild swimming and these will change depending on the season and sometimes the tide. So we thought we’d share our top 10 tips for wild swimming so you can enjoy the sport safely:
1. Never go wild swimming alone. Make sure you have a buddy with you. It’ll not only make the experience more enjoyable, but will make sure you can look out for each other’s welfare.
2. Don’t just take the plunge. Swimming outdoors can be seriously cold even during the warmer months of the year, so it is essential that you are aware of the temperature of the water. Ease yourself into the water gradually to avoid cold water shock, which can prove fatal.
3. Know your surroundings. Be aware of the depth of the water and of any currents and underwater plants such as reeds.
4. Wear appropriate swimwear. Wearing a full swimming wetsuit gives some protection from the cold. A swim hat in neoprene is also advised as are swim boots and gloves – the extremities feel the cold more.
5. Protect yourself from infection. Wear ear plugs to avoid ear infections. Cover any cuts or wounds with waterproof band aids.
6. Look for algae. If you spot blue-green algae (more common in warmer weather conditions) don’t enter the water. Blue-green algae is hazardous to your health.
7. Be hypothermia aware. Know the signs of hypothermia, so you can spot this in you or your swimming companion. Exit the water if either of you exhibit symptoms.
8. Ensure full hydration. Drink plenty of fluids prior to swimming. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, which can be dangerous when swimming.
9. Bundle up. Make sure you have plenty of dry warm clothing and towels with you for after the swim to avoid chills.