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Trip Blog

The benefits of open water swimming

By Olivia Weatherill , 19 November, 2019

It’s no secret we love swimming in the open water. Salty or freshwater, loch, lake or sea, the experience of swimming outside and without restrictions is a world away from a chlorinated pool. With the rising popularity of open water swimming, there’s never been a better time to get stuck in. Open water swimming can open up so many opportunities for individual and communities, whether that’s a boost your health, enjoying more freedom with your exercise or taking the chance to see more of the world, and we love to share this news with others. So, whether you’re already a fully-fledged open water lover, you’re looking to introduce a friend to swimming or even trying the outdoor swim life for yourself for the first time, here’s some of our favourite benefits of open water swimming.


The world of open water swimming is wide, vast and varied. From your local pond to crossings across seas, there’s so much that this kind of swimming can show you and you can adapt it to your own tastes. A chilly winter dip with snow on the ground or refreshing long swim in the heat of summer along the coast is an experience that can’t be replicated inside or within the confines of a pool. Open water swimming knows almost no boundaries with what it offers. It can be unpredictable, with your surroundings and weather conditions always changing. Even your local river will see the seasons change its surroundings and the water itself will always be in a constant state of movement. Our familiar swim spots will always have an element of change to them, and this is why we love the open water. You can swim without restrictions of what you may find and how far you’ll go, as this kind of swimming isn’t measured in lengths. Know no limits when it comes to where your open water swimming can take you.


An uninterrupted way to switch off

Any form of swimming is a great way to unwind and unplug from commitments and stresses outside of the water. But open water swimming, with all of its variables, demands more of its participants, requiring extra focus and concentration. Its nature makes it easier to switch off as you simply have more to think about the in the open water; sighting, breathing, remembering your exit points and ensuring you are aware of any hazards that may appear. A swim in open water gets that perfect balance of taking you away from other demands but keeping you focused with an entirely different purpose.

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Experiencing the outdoors

One of the best parts of swimming in open water is that it is necessarily outdoors. No more confinements to pools or lanes, you have the open outside to explore through swimming. With this comes all of the immersive nature of exercising outdoors – the feel of the weather on your skin (be this sun, wind or rain!), coming into contact with the local wildlife and the chance to see your surroundings changing if you swim in the same spot throughout the year. Embrace that fresh air and see what you’re missing outside.


Improve your health

Swimming in the open air has a huge range of health benefits as well as the sheer enjoyment you’ll gain from it. Your immune system and circulation are likely to be boosted, and this low impact aerobic workout is great for getting your heart rate up. Some may also find that without the constraints of repetitive lengths in the pool, they actually will swim much farther distances. Swimming in slightly rougher conditions will improve your physical strength (as well as most likely your mental toughness!), and the amount of research into swimming in cold open water has also been increasing, with enquiries finding that this can help reduce anxiety and help relieve chronic pain.


New friendships

The people you’ll meet in the open water swimming community are amongst the friendliest, eccentric and most passionate people around. If you are in any doubt of starting your open water swim journey, these are the wonderful people who will show you the ropes and be the ones eager to jump and try a dip with you, often with post swim snacks and warm drinks too! The Outdoor Swimming Society and provide useful directories of some of the open water swimming clubs and groups around the UK and the world.


The chance to travel

On an island like the UK, there are so many coasts, inland rivers and lakes to explore and a love of open water swimming also provides the perfect excuse to travel the world in search of your next great swim. You can use that passion to set you off on your travels and why not let SwimTrek show you some of these incredible locations around the world? Our full range of open water swimming trips can be found here.


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