As I’m sure most people at Running Deer will know, competitive sport is not really my thing. I’m not that great at catching frisbees, (catching anything, let’s be honest,) or kicking footballs.
Something that I have become very passionate about over the past year, however, is wild swimming. It’s so important for our physical and mental health for us to keep active; it doesn’t matter what our choice of movement is.
I used to swim in indoor pools quite a lot. There are so many awesome things about indoor pools; showers, sometimes even jacuzzis and the pools are warm all year round. The problem that I had, however, was that because I was going swimming after work and at the weekends, the pools were always really busy, and I was often in the way of other people who were also trying to swim.
Last summer, I spent the day outdoors with a friend who had told me to bring my swimming kit. She introduced me to a beautiful walk through the woods alongside the River Dart and led us to a spot where we could swim in the water.
I was nervous after dipping my toes in; I was very used to only swimming in heated pools! I told her that it was too cold and that I didn’t think I would be able to do it. My friend laughed affectionately, and I will always remember her looking at me and saying, “one day, we might not be able to do this.” Slowly but surely, I managed to get into the cold water, and I loved the freedom and strength that I felt from allowing myself to step out of my comfort zone.
Since that day I have become much braver in cold water and am so grateful for my body that allows me to swim. I love finding new outdoor swim spots and am hoping to get a wetsuit soon, which will help me to swim during more months of the year. There are so many benefits to swimming in cold water including better sleep, reduced stress levels, a stronger immune system, and increased levels of energy (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/).
Swimming outdoors, in natural water and under the trees, has in incredible ability to help to calm the mind and I always come home feeling like I have achieved something amazing.
It is important to remember that swimming outdoors does carry new risks in comparison to swimming in indoor pools. Here you will find detailed guidance on how to stay safe in open water https://outdoorswimmer.com/open-water-safety
Stay safe, feel free and have fun!