Wild swimming with Clare James
Words by Lottie Lewis
Why Wild Swimming?
Whether you need to calm or cool down, energise yourself or simply clear your mind - we don’t think there’s anything that quite matches the feeling of taking the plunge. Is there anything that a cold dip can’t cure?
Cold water swimming allows us to completely immerse ourselves in nature. We feel at our happiest and most wholesome with our hands in the dirt, salt in our hair and fresh air in our lungs, and even when it’s raining we don’t deny ourselves the rejuvenation that is found beneath the surface. Wild swimming in oceans, lakes and rivers can boost your mood and productivity levels, leaving you with a happier and healthier mental state than if you stayed on dry land. It’s hard to reemerge without a smile on your face.
Possibly the best thing about wild swimming is that it’s completely inclusive. No matter your age, gender or occupation, everyone can enjoy the benefits of cold water, and in turn discover a community of water babies that all share a common interest. There is a certain sense of fellowship amongst the wild swimming community; no matter if you’ve been sea swimming daily for 50 years or are just getting a feel for the water, each person shares an understanding, acceptance and feeling of pure joy at re-wilding themselves.
Take in the beauty, adjust to the cold.
When you immerse yourself into the waterways, you’ll not only have the opportunity to spot beautiful seabirds and marine life, but you’ll also see the land from a whole new perspective.
Many footpaths we tread daily on our dog walks, but floating down river on your back will flip your view on the wooded valleys that you thought you knew so well. By discovering the world from the water, we’re able to see our favourite spots from a totally new angle. For more inspiration, read leading journalist Isabel Hardman’s account here.
For something so simple, the health benefits are amazing. Swimming in cold water boosts your immune system, plus the salty sea air will aid in deeper sleeps and a calmer, more relaxed mental state. Cold water immersion will boost your dopamine levels, helping you feel happier. And never forget - wild swimming is something to be proud of! Not everyone can handle the idea of dropping their towel and taking the plunge. When you dip that first toe in, the water may seem unbearable, but diving into the depths will soon become an addiction, bringing your whole body to life whilst slowing and focusing your mind.
Moreover, there’s no right or wrong time to swim. Whether it’s at sunrise before work before the world has woken up, during the golden hour when the water’s had a chance to warm up over hot sands, amidst a downpour when nothing else will quite fit the bill, or with friends on long summer days, our water sources are always ready and waiting.
Take a deep breath and dive in.