Being a Conscientious Swimmer
As the popularity of swimming outside continues to rise, it’s important to remember that we’re not alone out there. We’re not the only ones on the riverbank, we’re not the only ones enjoying the water – so how can we all become more conscientious swimmers?
Don't be a dick
Firstly – and this is a rule for life in general – don’t be a dick. It’s pretty simple really. Don’t be a dick. Respect your fellow swimmers, respect the environment and respect the water.
Take your litter home with you
Or even better, bring a carrier bag with you so you can do a quick litter pick while you’re there. I often come back from a swim brandishing all sorts of drinks bottles and wrappers.
Now that the weather warms up, we can sometimes find ourselves jostling for a spot in that prime location that's close enough to the water but not too close to impinge on anyone else’s swim time. We all take so much from our swim experience so having a bit of room to yourself (and your swim buddies) to soak up your surroundings is part of that experience. Obviously there will be times when this might not be possible and it can be a luxury to have that space on a hot day but always worth trying your best.
Give people space
Share your knowledge
People who swim outdoors love to talk to people who swim outdoors about swimming outdoors. So if you can see someone struggling with how best to get in the water or cutting their feet up on the rocks, a friendly bit of advice can really boost people’s confidence.
Give advice – sure – but you don’t have to tell everyone about your favourite swim spot if you don’t want to. These places are special for a reason and sometimes you want to keep them as your secret for as long as possible. That’s not to say anyone has ownership of any one place in particular. One of the most beautiful things about wild swimming is almost anyone can do it.
Don’t give everything away
Research your swim spot
Watch out for blue green algae on the water surface (not good for swimming or animals). Check if it’s breeding season – nesting birds need lots (and lots!) of space so if it’s the first time you’ve seen nesting birds while swimming try and find a new place to dip.
Watch your step
Not only for your own safety but for the sake of the local environment. Wild swimming is wonderfully wild but it’s important to keep an eye on where you choose to get into the water. Make sure you’re not beginning to make a negative impact – displacing wildlife, trampling down wildflowers etc. If there’s a relatively well-worn path or steps – head there.
Give something back
There are lots of ways to support the management of our waterways. National charities such as the Canal and Rivers Trust, The Rivers Trust and Surfers Against Sewage have lots of local teams that help keep our rivers and beaches clean. Or you could look at the work of more wildlife-focused charities such as The Wildlife Trust or RSPB. There might even be a local volunteer group that manages the very place you swim everyday. If you have the time or funds to give something back then you’ll feel even better the next time you go for a dip.
Swimmers are great human beings
We love swimming. We love people who swim. We've forged some of the most watertight (!) friendships while swimming. We stumbled across this old article about research into sporting ‘types’ and apparently swimmers make the best lovers, are charitable, happy and tidy. Which sounds about right.
If you want a bit more advice on getting started with swimming outdoors, our Feral Friends have written some fantastic blogs with a whole host of information:
Swimming advice from Gilly McArthur
Useful links from the world of swimming:
The Outdoor Swimmers Code:
Swimming without a trace:
Wld swimming for beginners:
If you are new to outdoor swimming and feel inspired to give it a go, please ensure you do so safely.
We would strongly advise trying out your first swim with an experienced cold water swimmer until you are completely confident of your own abilities.
And if you have any questions, pop a post in the Swim Feral Facebook page and our fantastic community of swimmers will be sure to help.
Happy swimming xx
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