In praise of wild swimming












Indoor swimming pools have many attractions. Heated and disinfected water, private changing space, and even the occasional Jacuzzi on the side. So why would anyone want to swim outdoors? Britain’s seas and rivers are often shockingly cold, and they are also inhabited by all manner of incontinent marine life. Add in the constant threat of exposure to chill winds and rain, and you do not have the ideal ingredients for a pleasant swim. Yet I must confess that I share the enthusiasm of the swimmers of Sandycove near Dublin, who are pictured here.

Even in the northern hemisphere, swimming outdoors has to be one of life’s most satisfying pleasures. It gives you the chance literally to submerge yourself in the beauty of the environment. One of my own favourite places is a bay on the western shore of a small island on the west coast of Scotland, where at sunset the colours of the sky appear to melt into the water.

Outdoor swimming is also brisk, invigorating and fun – and there is no doubt that regular exercise is good for you. The problem is that the medical literature seems filled with terrifying reasons to avoid it. But there is risk everywhere in life, and there are certainly multiple ones in doing no exercise or locking oneself indoors.

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