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Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team

Now is the Time to Swim

By Col
22, Jun, 2018

Share in the joy and adventure of swimming outdoors with these tips and inspiration from our Alpkiteers: the whys, hows, and wheres of wild swimming...

© Alpkit
"We promise to strip and dip wherever we can"

...just part of the Outdoor Swimming Societies manifesto. Well, even if some of us prefer to strip and put on a wetsuit before we dip, there's no denying the pleasure that open water swimming, or wild swimming, can bring. From a plunge into a icy cool pool after a hot day on the hill to a 2 mile round trip out to remote islands, there's something for everyone when it comes to connecting with water and your inner dolphin... or fish, or lobster... 

 

Why we think you should take the plunge in wild waters...

  • Swim now, glow later. Tingle all day long after an early morning dip. Or plunging into natural pools on a warm day after a walk, run or ride is ace.

  • A new view. Seeing those places you know and love from the water lets you look at them anew. Experience hidden spots away from the tow paths and car parks.

  • It can be quick. It doesn’t take long to feel alive with a quick dip - no long slogs necessary. 

  • Incredible exercise. If you do swim for longer you’ll get fit quicker. 

  • Getting dry. Warm and dry afterwards with a flask of hot chocolate could be the best thing ever. 

  • The deep friendships you make. Swimming is a social activity, but can also be a great leveller … everyone is equal in the water

  • It’s a bit naughty. Grown-ups always said don’t swim in open water - now you get to decide for yourself…but stay safe!

 

birds eye view of swimmer in an alpkit wetsuit lying face up in the water just off a coastline
close up of a woman's face, she is laughing as she treads water in an estuary

 


 

Stay safe when wild swimming

Suzanna Swims has a quick few pointers to offer. If you are unsure or want to give it a try in more of a social situation, hunt around for local groups and guides in your area. (In fact, Suzanna just happens to run guided sessions from Alpkit Ambleside... convenient hey? Contact the Ambleside Store to get involved.)

1. Never swim alone.

It is more fun swimming with a friend! Always let someone know where you are. 

2. Know your limits.

And don’t stay in too long. Beginners should allow one minute per degree of water. 

3. Take appropriate clothing.

Warm gear for after your swim and suitable footwear – swim shoes make it easier to get in and out of the water. 

4. Never jump straight in.

Get in slowly and inspect the area you intend to swim in for hidden hazards like rocks or branches. 

5. Get the glory shot.

Always make sure you have an SD card in your camera! 

 


 

The bottom of Aleks Kashefi's face under water
Daring Deed Alert!

Alpkiteer Aleks Kashefi was really into running (you may remember him running from North - South of Europe), but when he went looking for new adventures he turned to swimming and faced his fear of open water. Read about how he got on here...

 


 

Why swim? with the Wild Swimming Brothers

Alpkiteers The Wild Swimming Brothers certainly aren't shy of hitting the open water... With the destinations they pick, stripping and dipping doesn't tend to be an option, so we've kitted them out with wetsuits for adventures such as their Into the Maelstrom project.

Often asked why he thought swimming was good for you, Jack Hudson of the Wild Swimming Brothers could always come up with a couple of reasons but always felt he missed something. So he jotted down 50 reasons to start wild swimming as a way of remembering them in the hope that he could give a better answer next time. We’ve pulled out a few, but you can see his full list on the Wild Swimming Brothers site. Of course, even these 50 reasons can be expanded to include your own...

 

What it does for your head…
  • It puts you at water level and allows you to experience the natural world on nature’s terms.

  • It causes a decrease in cortisol and other stress hormones.

  • It removes the headache of swimming lanes and bumping into devil may care sprint swimmers.

  • It breaks up your routine and gives you time to clear your head of humdrum, everyday business.

 

Wild Swimming Brothers swimming in icy waters past a coat
a man in a lagoon is splashing about and laughing in reaction to the cold water
 
Alpkit staff on holiday in wales, swimming in the sea in their wetsuits

 

What it does for your body…
  • It teaches you to control your body temperature and improves your ability to manage the cold.

  • It boosts the immune system, increasing your white blood cell counts. The cold water acts a mild antagonist, activating and training your immune system.

  • It immerses you in cold and allows less strained movement, soothing any vestigial muscular aches.

  • It shuffles your exercise regime. Physically, the act of wild swimming puts you in an environment you’re not used to. This adds an element of fun and exploration that can encourage you to do more exercise.

 

What it does for your heart…
  • It instills a sense of adventure in you, taking you down the road less travelled and gives you a taster of the pioneer spirit.

  • It enhances your knowledge of biodiversity – travelling down waterways you’re much more likely to encounter rare flora and fauna.

  • After swimming in rivers, ponds, tarns and lakes, it eventually brings you to the ocean. It’s hard not to fall further in love with our Blue Planet when you start dipping your toes in these colossal expanses.

  • It’s a good laugh.

 


 

Where to go wild swimming? 

Fnding patches of blue on the OS map, hiking to them and hopping in is a great way to sprinkle some added spice onto your weekly adventure.

The Outdoor Swimming Society have a great crowd-sourced wild swimming map to give you some pointers too, check it out at wildswim.com then pack your dry bag and head off on a new adventure.

A woman is stood on on the shore and drying her face with a towel

 

What to take and what to wear?

Well, in all honesty, you don't have to wear anything, but some discretion may be needed in these circumstances and we certainly wouldn't suggest it for the local Lido. That's the beauty of wild swimming, you can take as little as you want.

 

"You learn to love the Speedo. I used to be embarrassed in anything other than baggy board shorts – now I rock my Speedos with pride. This is the skimpy, unflattering uniform of all swimmers and you should enjoy being part of the tribe!" (Jack Hudson, Wild Swimming Brothers)

 

We'd recommend a pair of speedos or a swimming costume as a minimum. Some warm clothes to change into after the swim come in handy too, and why not a BruKit make yourself a nice warm drink when get out again. If you're in for longer periods or the water is particularly cold, we'd recommmend a wetsuit.

We have developed a range of wetsuits to cover most needs: from the Lotic suit which encourages a more natural swimming position,  to the thermally lined Silvertip for particualrly cold waters. Alpkit Wetsuits... explore the whole range.

Graphic of 3 alpkit wetsuits

 

Inspiration

But before you go... get inspired by Kate Rew, Kari Furre, Katie Tunn and Al Humprheys 

 

 


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