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Open Water Swimming

I have a print above my desk that I glance at from time to time when working. It is entitled “Swim Wild” and has an ink drawing in shades of blue of a lady diving into water next to a poem by Steven Corbett:

“What’s a worry, once you’re in?

Let the lake evaporate all those thoughts on which you cogitate.

Let the slop chop of arm out, arm in silence that to-do list din.

When crawling through that vast reflected sky do not ask how or why?

Let the world dissolve into the current and the cold.

To your worries (for the moment) become reconciled

Swim free, swim wild”

Every time I read it, I smile and am transported to the lake at Divers Cove – its clear, cool waters and its friendly community of swimmers.

At the beginning of last summer, when we were learning how to navigate our way through this scary, confusing new world of lockdown and social distancing, of empty shelves in shops and hug-free virtual meetings – the lake was my oasis of calm and normality. Something safe, enjoyable, and allowed. Swimming in the lake, I am literally submerged in nature. I feel calm, relaxed, and happy. 

I am not alone in this – in 2020 it is estimated that between 1.5 to 3 times as many people tried Open Water Swimming for the first time. It also seems that swimming outdoors and especially in cold water may be more beneficial for our wellbeing than other forms of exercise.

  • During exercise the body releases endorphins and dopamine which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and pleasure.
  • Exercising outdoors is even more effective. Research has shown that exercise in blue and/or green spaces increases the positive psychological results of exercise.
  • Immersion in cold water creates a stress reaction in your body, the so -called “fight or flight” mode. However, this reaction reduces after only a few times as the body adapts to the stress. Even better, this reduced reaction will also now apply to other forms of stress, both physical and psychological.
  • The outdoor swimming community is incredibly friendly and attracts people of all ages, sexes, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, we can build on new and existing friendships

What do you need to get started?

A swimming costume and goggles – of course! It can be useful to have an extra pair of goggles with tinted lenses for sunny days.

A swimming hat – most venues require you to wear a brightly coloured hat so that you are clearly visible. They also help keep your head warm.

A wetsuit – not essential but they do keep you warm and help with buoyancy. There are lots of places you can hire a suit from to see if you like it before committing to buying.

A tow float – a small inflatable float that you attach around your waist. Not essential but they are inexpensive, help with visibility and if you are not wearing a wetsuit give you something to hold onto if you want to stop for a rest.

Warm clothes – It can take a while to warm up after swimming especially if the weather is chilly or windy. Take something warm to wear afterwards. A warm drink also helps!

For more information and to find places to swim:

http://www.outdoorswimmer.com/find/venues

http://www.swimming.org/openwater/

www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

I have a print above my desk that I glance at from time to time when working. It is entitled “Swim Wild” and has an ink drawing in shades of blue of a lady diving into water next to a poem by Steven Corbett:

“What’s a worry, once you’re in?

Let the lake evaporate all those thoughts on which you cogitate.

Let the slop chop of arm out, arm in silence that to-do list din.

When crawling through that vast reflected sky do not ask how or why?

Let the world dissolve into the current and the cold.

To your worries (for the moment) become reconciled

Swim free, swim wild”

Every time I read it, I smile and am transported to the lake at Divers Cove – its clear, cool waters and its friendly community of swimmers.

At the beginning of last summer, when we were learning how to navigate our way through this scary, confusing new world of lockdown and social distancing, of empty shelves in shops and hug-free virtual meetings – the lake was my oasis of calm and normality. Something safe, enjoyable, and allowed. Swimming in the lake, I am literally submerged in nature. I feel calm, relaxed, and happy. 

I am not alone in this – in 2020 it is estimated that between 1.5 to 3 times as many people tried Open Water Swimming for the first time. It also seems that swimming outdoors and especially in cold water may be more beneficial for our wellbeing than other forms of exercise.

  • During exercise the body releases endorphins and dopamine which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and pleasure.
  • Exercising outdoors is even more effective. Research has shown that exercise in blue and/or green spaces increases the positive psychological results of exercise.
  • Immersion in cold water creates a stress reaction in your body, the so -called “fight or flight” mode. However, this reaction reduces after only a few times as the body adapts to the stress. Even better, this reduced reaction will also now apply to other forms of stress, both physical and psychological.
  • The outdoor swimming community is incredibly friendly and attracts people of all ages, sexes, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, we can build on new and existing friendships

What do you need to get started?

A swimming costume and goggles – of course! It can be useful to have an extra pair of goggles with tinted lenses for sunny days.

A swimming hat – most venues require you to wear a brightly coloured hat so that you are clearly visible. They also help keep your head warm.

A wetsuit – not essential but they do keep you warm and help with buoyancy. There are lots of places you can hire a suit from to see if you like it before committing to buying.

A tow float – a small inflatable float that you attach around your waist. Not essential but they are inexpensive, help with visibility and if you are not wearing a wetsuit give you something to hold onto if you want to stop for a rest.

Warm clothes – It can take a while to warm up after swimming especially if the weather is chilly or windy. Take something warm to wear afterwards. A warm drink also helps!

For more information and to find places to swim:

http://www.outdoorswimmer.com/find/venues

http://www.swimming.org/openwater/

www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

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