Some days, there’s nothing better than heading out for a swim in the great outdoors. Unlike at your local pool, there’s no walls or lanes to constrict you, and you get to be at one with nature while the often-cold temperatures challenge you both physically and mentally.
Luckily, making the move from pool to open waters isn’t so hard once you’ve got the right gear. We’ve listed some of the kit you’ll need for your first ever wild swimming adventure.
What is wild swimming?
Before we delve into the kit, let’s do a quick overview of what exactly constitutes ‘wild’ swimming. As the word suggests, it’s essentially swimming in the wild, so swimming somewhere like a lake, ocean, or river would count.
While people have been swimming outdoors for centuries, it appears to have really gained popularity in recent years. It’s a unique experience that allows you to reconnect with nature while providing all the benefits that come with swimming and the fact that it’s a non-impact sport that is easy on the joints.
Getting started is pretty easy. You basically head to the nearest body of water and get in. Of course, you need to check that swimming is allowed there and keep things like the weather, tides, and currents in mind. And of course, you may need some extra gear!
Gear for wild swimming
For a casual swim, you can usually get away with just a swimsuit. However, if you’re after more than just a quick dip in the water, then it may be a good idea to get some additional gear to make the most of your experience.
Sometimes, the best thing about swimming outdoors is the view. Look for something comfortable that gives you good vision. Make sure it’s a good fit; you want it to be tight, but not so much that it causes you pain. If you plan on doing a lot of swimming, then it’s great to have two pairs; a clear or yellow tinted pair for dull days, and a mirrored or shaded pair for sunny days.
Purists may not appreciate a wetsuit, but if you’re swimming in colder waters, you will probably benefit from one, particularly if you’re just starting out. Not only do they help keep you warmer, but they also make you more buoyant. Look for a snug fit, so you don’t keep getting cold water coming through. If you’re not ready to commit to buying one, you can always rent one.
Swimming caps can be a big help against the cold. Your silicon variety may be a little pricier, but they’re thicker and tend to last long compared to the latex kind. If you’re getting into colder waters, you may want to consider wearing a neoprene hat instead, or in addition to, your normal one.
Gloves and socks
Wetsuits help to keep your body warm, but what about your extremities? Gloves and sock made from neoprene can help you out with that.
We’ve listed the main things you will likely need to go wild swimming, but there are a few extras that may make your swimming adventure that little bit more comfortable and enjoyable.
A lubricant can help with the chaffing you can often get when swimming longer distances, particularly in the sea where the salt doesn’t help matters. Roll-on lubricants are a great option and easy to apply. Earplugs can help keep your core temperature up when you’re swimming in cold waters, so consider a silicon pair when the weather is cold.
If you want to capture the views while you’re out enjoying the beautiful outdoors, then you may want to bring a waterproof camera along with you. They can also be great if you’re getting to know a new area or planning a different route so you can record your findings. You can store it in a small waterproof dry bag or float and tow it along by tying it to your ankle using a surfboard leash.
Now that you’re ready to face the waters go ahead and jump into that river or ocean, and enjoy being at one with nature.