Swim Wild

I can’t believe that my last post was in June, when days were long and sunny, and a lovely summer was yet to unroll warmly into the weeks ahead. Of course, we’re living in unprecedented times during which many of us have adapted to comfortable and safe routines. I continue to stay safe, and local, and as wild as possible.

As a consequence of our world and habits turning temporarily hyperlocal, I have found myself treading safe, reliable paths and nursing a more contemplative outlook. Taking the time to reconnect with reading and listening, spurred on by the fluich and fuar of changing weather, has meant more time for cosy introspection and planning for the months ahead. Living in the moment is noble, but there is also something invigorating about planning for adventures ahead and committing to them. The shortest days are behind us, and the days begin to stretch and unfurl brightly at their edges. There are hopeful signs of life returning, in many ways.

As a result of all that “cosy introspection”, I’ve determined that 2021 is the year I will hurl myself into chilly wild waters!

Through the steady drip-drip of social osmosis, I’ve become increasingly enamoured with the concept of wild swimming, especially during lockdown where I have enjoying anecdotes of aquatic antics. I have good friends and colleagues who swear by their daily dips and I’ve even encouraged others to try the experience. This, despite the fact that my own adventures have been restricted, so far, to temperate summertime snorkels on the West coast of Scotland and the warm seas around the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

There’s plenty of science behind the benefits of wild swimming; immersing your body in cold water activates a host of beneficial responses for both physical and mental health, and doing so in an outdoor environment brings the added benefits of exposure to nature. In these times, it seems an obvious panacea in the struggle against depression, stress and routine, and this is why I’m committed to giving it a go.

I’ve got the kit (“all the gear but no idea”) so there’s no turning back. I’ve got the ideal locations on my doorstep; I’m blessed to be within 10 minutes of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and even closer to the brackish waters of the Firth of Clyde. I’ve been taking increasingly cold showers every morning for weeks in preparation (an adventure in itself), and – perhaps most importantly – I’ve joined a network of experts and enthusiasts to ensure I stay safe and informed.

Plunging yourself into cold water is not a joke. I have, after all, slipped into that age bracket where I’m advised to “seek medical advice” before hurling myself into/over/through/off anything marginally risky. I look forward to gradually immersing myself into the experience. I also look forward to sharing my progress, but as the horizon to my first scheduled dip rolls closer, I just can’t help thinking “why didn’t I pick last June to start…?”

Have you taken the plunge as a wild swimmer? I’d love to hear about your experiences, tips and suggestions. Leave your words of encouragement (or curses) below.

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