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My most asked questions on wild swimming

Wild swimming is one of the most freeing experiences you can do. Not only is it a great workout, but it’s easy to allow yourself to just be absorbed by the nature surrounding you, clearing your mind of the hustle of everyday life.

However, wild swimming can set alarm bells off for many people. You may have questions about what happens when you go, or how you might feel.

Here are some FAQs I get from people either new to wild swimming or people who have never tried it.

Why is wild swimming good for you?

Wild swimming is an instant mood booster helping to alleviate depression, you get such a rush of all the feel good hormones. It jump starts your metabolism too so you burn calories and it’s a full body workout. The cold water stimulates your lymphatic system which promotes a better immune system. The ecotherapy element of swimming, immersing yourself in nature, helps you to slow down, destress and feel gratitude for the wonderful world we live in.

What happens to the body when emerged in cold water?

The first thing that would happen would be your body’s shock response to the cold; gasping, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing. These all occur due to the reflex response of the cold water on your skin. After skin cooling, the next layer to cool down is your nerves and muscles. This impairs their function, nerve impulses are slowed and muscles stiffen. Arms cool down quickest due to them being smaller than your legs, often people have uncontrollable splaying of the hands and swimming movements can be severely restricted.
This can be prevented though! The important thing is to stay calm and control your breathing. Deep breaths in and out through the nose can help keep you calm and allow your body to get over the initial cold shock.

How would you describe the experience of swimming in nature?

Wild swimming is literally a complete immersion into nature. When you are out there no one can reach you, there is no tech, no one calling and you feel completely removed from the fast paced world we live in. It’s time to slow down and unwind.

How does swimming with a group improve / change the experience?

Swimming with a group is obviously safer. Having others around you allows you to relax into the experience as you know there is someone watching out for you. There is often positive encouragement from other swimmers helping you to stay in longer or swim further. There is also an accountability when swimming with others, so you are more likely to stay committed to going and the habit strengthens.

What advice would you give to someone wild swimming for the first time?

Start in the summer when the water temperature is higher. Go with a friend or a guide to give you the encouragement you need. There are many wild swimming guides out there offering day excursions and retreats. Take an inflatable swimming tow float for reassurance and safety.

What effects on health and happiness can regular wild swimming have? What have you seen in others/experienced yourself?

What I love is that you don’t need to be in the water for hours, it’s such a quick fix. You can be having the most stressful day and a two minute cold water dip washes it all away. It’s also complete escapism, it is one of the greatest and most easily accessible ways to feel completely alive and it’s free!

If you are interested in wild swimming, join us on one of our retreats where we visit the beauty spots of North Wales or the Lake District to get a life changing wild swim experience. For more information, visit

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