The Forge has collaborated with Cardiff Metropolitan University to publish this case study for CABI on how the magic combination of wild swimming and glamping can help women build a stronger self-identity and foster a lasting sense of community.
If you have ever wondered why you feel so good after a swim in a beautiful, natural lake or after sleeping under canvas for a couple of nights, this case study helps to articulate the benefits.
With the very generous and candid inputs from women who have been on our wild swim retreats, this case study explores why the unique combination of cold water swimming and off-grid stays can help to provide a space for women to navigate challenging moments in their lives. This ranges from menopause, career changes, divorce, and just generally embarking on new phases.
Key to the experience is the ability to step away fromeveryday stresses and take some time out, where someone else makes the decisions and the quotidien tasks of cooking, cleaning and generally managing other people are put on hold, allowing the women a true break.
The act of open water swimming is also important, and as the women literally remove their clothing to swim, they are also metaphorically stripping themselves of their usual constraints, enabling them to experience freedom of movement, and of thought. This leads to more open conversations and deeper connections as the women collectively overcome the challenge of entering very cold water together and mutually support each other through the swimming experience, and also through the conversations that ensue in the water and on land.
As well as the well-publicised physical and mental benefits of cold water swimming, such as the release of the 'happy chemicals' (serotonin and dopamine) which help combat depression, and the anti-inflammatory effects for pain relief, this case study argues that the benefits go much further to benefit women on a social level. This benefit is enhanced during a wild swim retreat as participants get to spend a whole weekend together, not just a short swim, so they are able to connect on a much deeper and enduring level.