The Benefits of Wild Swimming

On the 17th September, in the heart of the scenic Cairngorms, swimmers from all over with participate in Go Swim Loch Morlich for their wild swimming. The beach is 300 metres above sea level making it one of the highest beaches in the UK. With a plethora of distances to choose from starting at the beginner’s distance, 250m, to the more advanced 10,000m, there are options for every skill level.

The popularity wild swimming has seen in recent years is said to have tripled likely due to lockdown and the increased interest in outdoor activities this spurred on. Go Swim are hoping on this trend by providing swimmers with exhilarating and challenging organised events around the sport.

Research into the benefits of wild swimming is still quite limited however there is some data that suggests the ways in which it can be good for you in a multitude of ways. Whether it be your mental or physical health.

Here are a few reasons for its rise in popularity.

Improved Circulation

Heat on both ends of the temperature spectrum affect how you blood responds. For example, when the heat increases it pushes blood to the surface whereas colder temperatures send it to your organs. The surge in blood being pumped around your body helps flush out impurities from you circulation. Your body adapts to the cold with regular exposure, and this improves your circulation. Some women even say it stops cellulite.

Weight Loss

Swimming in any form is an effective method for losing weight however when you swim in colder water your body needs to work twice as hard to ensure you stay warm therefore burns more calories than if you were to swim in any heated pool.

Boosts Immune System

Even though jumping into cold water can initially give you a bit of a shock this biological response can boost your immune system. Regular cold-water swimming can significantly increase your white blood cell count therefore stimulating your immune system.

Stress Reliever

Wild swimming is a great way to practice stress management. Every time you get into the water it triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response. Wild swimmers are often good at quieting the mind, regulating their breath and calm their nervous system. Soothing yourself through the stress each time teaches your body how to manage this better once you’re out of the water.

Mood Booster

Wild swimming is a good way to manage low moods and depression. There isn’t a massive amount of research into this yet but in 2018, a report in the British Medical Journal talks of a swimmer’s ability to overcome depression through swimming in the sea and this isn’t the only story about this.

Natural High

If you know many wild water swimmers, they often talk of how they get a ‘high’ from swimming in cold water. But why is this? Endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s homemade painkillers. When you jump into cold water your body uses them to take the nip off your skin.

wild swimming

Wild swimming

Where to Go Wild Swimming

So, you want to get involved but don’t know where to start? Here is small list of some of the best wild swimming locations in the UK.

Skye’s Faerie Pools, Scotland

The pools lie in a sheltered glade of lilac rock and red-berried rowans with many giving off shades of pinks and greens. Two of the pools are even joined via an underwater arch. The fantastical setting makes it easy to imagine stories with nymphs and faeries. Under the water the rock face is encrusted with quartz giving it a green glow. This site is a special visit for any fan of wild swimming.

West Beach, Berneray in Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The beaches of the Outer Hebrides are known for their fine, white sand beaches and clear blue waters. The surrounding land is decorated in picturesque stone circles. It’s said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in all the UK.

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Grantchester Meadows, Cambridgeshire, England

A popular spot for warm days for canoeing, picnics and camping, the meadows are perfect for swimming. Famous for being a spot where Virginia Woolfe would relax, the river stretches one mile from the Backs to the Orchard Tea Gardens.

Tarns of Snowdonia, Wales

Tarns (known as llyns in Wales) are high altitude lakes near the top of the mountain and the Rhinog Range in Snowdonia has the most per mile than any other area of Wales. Swimming here offers up an escape to the landscape and if swimmers need a break, they can enjoy sun lounging on the cliff ledges.

Snowdonia, Wales

Mourne Mountains, County Down, N. Ireland

The loch, Lough Shannagh, surrounded by the Mourne Mountains is another scenic, wild swimming location. It’s only a 30-minute walk from the road making it a perfect cool down. Surrounded by the peaks of Slieve Doan and Slieve Lough Shannagh. This beautiful Irish landscape is covered in heather, the water is crystal clear and there’s even a stretch of sand for those who get cold feet!

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