Wild swimming – your ultimate guide to getting started

Wild swimming – the act of taking the plunge in natural spaces – has seen a huge surge in popularity. One quick scroll on social media and you’ll be inundated with folks enjoying dips in hidden lagoons, soothing lakes and crystal-clear seas.

While a winter swim may not sound too tempting, summer is the perfect time to get started with wild swimming – especially if you’re in the UK.

Here, we reveal how to stay safe on your wild swim.

Women walking along the shore on the beach looking happy

How to stay safe when wild swimming

Understand the water

An open expanse of cool water can be incredibly tempting – especially on a warm summer’s day – but always check the flow of the water before you get in.

This can be something as simple as throwing a stick into the water. Fast-moving water will carry the branch off quickly. If it’s faster than you can swim, you’ll be carried away with the current. Avoid diving in and save your swim for another day.

Likewise, it’s worth knowing how deep the water is before you get in. Use a long stick or a branch to help you gauge the depth so you can stay within your limits. This will also help you to know if there are long reeds in the water.

Know your exit points

Make sure you know how to get out of the water before you enter. Spots with steep, slippery banks are a no-go. Instead, look for shallow areas that are easily accessible.

Check the water quality

Algae can easily build up in natural pools of water – especially towards the end of summer. Scan the water for any harmful algae of bacteria. Skip your swim if you have any doubts.

Stay warm

Wild swimming in the UK can be chilly – even in the summer months. It’s important to keep warm and allow your body to acclimatise slowly.

When you’re first starting out, take a dip in a wetsuit. Over time, as your body becomes more used to the chill, you may find you can go without it.

Don’t forget – your post-swim plan is just as important as your dip. Make sure you have plenty of towels and warm clothes to wrap up in. A dry robe can make changing a breeze.

We love this eco-friendly version from Slowtide.

Keep your friends in the loop

If you’re new to wild swimming, it’s wise to head out with a friend. They might choose to join you, or hang out on the shoreline. No one to go with? Check on social media to find a local wild swimming group. It’s a great way to meet new friends.

Even if you’re experienced, it’s always best to let a friend know where you are. Tell them where you’re going and what time you’re aiming to be home. This way, they can raise the alarm if needed.