We mean plunging into lakes, rivers and seas and revelling in the restorative benefits of earth’s natural waters. Improving circulation, boosting your immune system and getting a natural high while you’re at it (the cold water on your skin releases endorphins). Aside from the physical benefits of exercise, you can also reap the emotional benefits of connecting with nature in the city.
The popularity of open water swimming has risen steadily over the past few years, with more and more converts all espousing the health benefits of a quick – and often very chilly – dip. The film above follows one such tribe, NOWCA, who facilitate open water swimming sessions across the UK. We went to meet their swimmers who brave London’s River Thames to hear first hand why all of us city dwellers should consider donning our wetsuits.
Not convinced that swimming in the Thames is going to do it for you? Here are three other open water swimming groups that are also worth exploring.
Outdoor Swimming Society
Kate Rew, author of Wild Swim, which draws on the breathtaking scenery that often accompanies such a plunge, is one of the country’s best-known advocates of the sport. She founded the Outdoor Swimming Society who provides practical advice on starting outdoor swim groups around the country. They also organise their own meets, such as the annual December dip party at the Parliament Hill Lido in London’s Hampstead Heath, for which swimmers don fancy dress. www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com
Kenwood Ladies' Pond Association
This is a group of women who look after the interests of the popular Ladies’ Pond in Hampstead Heath, London. It is a voluntary group and members not only meet and swim, but also make it their priority to preserve the much-loved women’s pond with its peaceful and natural qualities. www.klpa.org.uk
For 10 years Great Swim has put on swim meets across the country and invited people of all abilities to participate, offering different length routes for varying experience. You will have to pay but these events are well organised and you’re bound to meet some like-minded adventurers. www.greatrun.org/great-swim
For more information about joining a NOWCA session visit www.nowca.org.
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