Throughout my outdoor swimming journey I've noticed that there are so many misconceptions about wild swimming. People seem to make massive assumptions and allow this to put them off even considering it as the sport for them. This makes me so sad as I'm sure there are hundreds of people for whom outdoor swimming would help mentally and physically. So in this post I'm going to dispel, or explain away some things that I have heard over the last year.
· It’s Dangerous – All sports are dangerous if you don’t do them sensibly. Outdoor swimming should be thought of as a sport. When weightlifting you have someone to spot you, when you go running you wear suitable footwear. The same applies with swimming outdoors. Don’t swim alone, don’t stay in too long, get warm quickly. When you run on the road you wear reflective or high vis clothing, when you’re in the sea wear a bright hat. Outdoor swimming has simple, easy to follow rules just like any other sport, that are there to keep you safe.
· It’s only for “proper” or “serious” swimmers – Yes I do have friends who have swam the channel. I also have friends that can barely swim 100m and don’t like getting their faces wet. And my swim tribe are some of the funniest, silliest people I have ever met (not to mention rudest!) so they are definitely not “serious”. I have friends that go in in just speedos, and friends that wear full wetsuits. Some people go to train in the pool most mornings, some swim twice a month. Outdoor swimming is for EVERYONE.
· Ice swimming is really hard – Now I have to be very careful with this one. Yes, and no. Ice swimming is anything under 5oC. This is basically the temperature of the sea where I swim at the moment. Most guidebooks, websites etc. will say you have to train hard to cope with swimming in under 5oC. You also should be aware of things like hyperthermia, and cold water shock (there are some good links at the end of this post). That being said, I’ve been swimming for just shy of a year, on average three times a week maybe, and I can stay in the water for up to 25 minutes at the moment. Sometimes I swim a few hundred metres, sometimes I just tread water and watch the birds. I’m not an athlete, I’m not a channel swimmer, and I’m defo not a sporty person. I don’t eat special foods, or train in ice baths, my doctor would say according to my BMI that I'm officially "obese" (I think I'm just part seal). It really depends on your body's tolerance for cold, and how hard you push it. Just like all sports! I regularly swim with people who are basically doing an ice mile every week and no one bats an eyelid.
· People in wet suits can’t swim with skin swimmers – what the actual flip? Why would anyone think this? I actually have heard this before and it blows my mind. As a skins swimmer I think that people in wetsuits are missing out on the feel of the water (I like to be one with nature, man!), and to be honest it looks like a right fankle to get it on and off. But it’s totally your prerogative if you wanna stay toasty! There may be the odd joke about getting you out of it (all swimmers are bit filthy) but really, no one cares.
Have you heard of any strange thoughts of outdoor swimming? I'd really love to hear from anyone that has been put off swimming because of the above, or other reasons. I'm sure there are many other misconceptions about outdoor swimming and I'd relish the opportunity to dispel some of them. Please get in touch either via the comments, or message me on Instagram @corinneheggie
Hints and Tips:
There are of course a plethora of information spots on the internet about the risks associated with outdoor swimming. Below are some that I've found super useful:
This site has a huge amount of information, really helpful about all types of swimming:
Excellent, basic how to:
One of the most open, honest, excellent blogs about swimming: