The Forge

Have you ever wondered what wild swimming is all about? Are you keen to try it but not sure where to start? This week our friends, Meg and Laura, at Wild Swim Snowdonia are here to tell us all about it!

We are blessed in every direction with beautiful open water offering us a real swim temptation everywhere we look. Wild swimming is bigger than ever in Snowdonia (just 15 minutes drive away from The Forge!), whether it’s hardy all year round sea swimmers, mountaineers who cool off in the remote lakes or of more recent times, a lot of visitors to the area all curious about this wild swimming craze.

Wild Swim Snowdonia was born out of a shared obsession with cold water. The term “wild swimming” was not even a thing as this passionate duo was growing up. For them it was just a swim and second nature growing up in rural Wales. Fast forward 30 odd years, and co founders Meg Pugh and Laura Sanderson, explain what the fuss is all about and why they are hooked on “wild swimming”.

“The term wild swimming does make us smile! We cringe a little that we have called our business Wild Swim Snowdonia but to be honest it was a straight forward decision for us as the term wild swimming is now so well used, we would have been foolish not to call it what it says on the tin! We both have full time jobs and families, and set up a hobby business. It was only a few weeks in before we realised how much potential this had. We’re loving it!

“Much of our business ethos and passion is centred around promoting Snowdonia National Park, and highlighting what an amazing place it is to visit in autumn, winter and spring – not just the summer months; educating people on how to be kinder to the environment and do their bit; and highlighting the fact that swimming outside in the wild can be done by pretty much everyone. Once you have the gear you want (from a costume and towel right up to the full wetsuit and swim attire) and you’ve built your confidence up, it’s a fantastic free healthy activity on most people’s doorsteps.

“The rise in people wanting to give wild swimming a go is phenomenal. We see more and more people experiencing it and we think it’s the addiction that makes it so popular. It literally makes you tingle and smile all over, and the famous after glow you get afterwards is something no money can buy. We can feel quite an intense urge to swim if ever we haven’t made it to water in a while”.

It’s not just the cold water induced after glow that everyone is chasing - Meg and Laura list some well documented health benefits of wild swimming, as well as why they love it.

  • NATURE Immersing yourself in cold water while surrounded by nature helps to give your perspective, be in the moment and help to remain mindful. We see some mind blowing scenery and wildlife which just makes it all the more special.
  • GETS OUR BODIES PUMPING It helps circulation and calms inflammation, the latter of which is linked to depression and anxiety
  • NO ONE CARES HOW WE LOOK It is all about the swim. The daily stresses and worries can be left behind. There is no vanity, it’s all about sharing the cold water induced after glow with others, or alone
  • KICK STARTS THE DAY It boosts metabolism as your body works harder in cold water, and in turn helps improve your immune system
  • A SENSE OF PEACE It is good for the mind and offers a true sense of calm and releases our all important happy hormones
  • LOW IMPACT It is fab for all ages and levels of fitness/abilities as it’s low impact on your joints
  • GETS US OUTSIDE Probably the main reason our regular swimmers join us is that wild swimming takes you to places you wouldn’t normally go. It gets you moving and into the beautiful Welsh fresh air.

When it comes to safety, Wild Swim Snowdonia remind us that the risks should never be underestimated but with some common sense and planning, it is great activity to enjoy safely.

Meg and Laura offer some general safety tips:

  • Speak to locals about where is safe to swim, and about any dangers they are already aware of.
  • Study a beach at low and high tide to see how different it is.
  • Learn how to spot a RIP current and read about the RNLI’s brilliant Float To Live campaign.
  • Never underestimate the power of the sea.
  • Check out Outdoor Swimming Society website for stacks of safety tips on picking a swim etc.
  • Never immerse yourself quickly in cold water no matter how warm a day it is. Many people in the UK have drowned due to the shock cold water can cause. Always acclimatise first.
  • Be sensible about picking a spot to swim, study the water first looking for signs of fast flowing water/currents and check the water is clean and fresh not stagnant.
  • Always take warm layers and a hot drink for afterwards, no matter what the weather is like
  • Choose your entry and exit point carefully before going ahead and swimming.
  • Be visible! Boats, fishermen etc. can all overlook a swimmer especially in a choppy lake or sea, so wear a tow float for added visibility. Check out Swim Secure for an awesome range.
  • Join a swim group local to you. They are free and great fun, and handy way to build your knowledge and confidence.
  • See which is a free portal of swim spots created by Outdoor Swimming Society.

Wild Swim Snowdonia offer guided wild swims to visitors to Snowdonia – these can be tailored to your needs. They run regular beginner sessions throughout the year and work on collaborative wild swim retreats. Follow them on social media for a flavour of their wild swimming adventures.

Posted: 31.08.19 | Activities| Health and wellbeing| Environment| Digital Detox

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