Why I Swim - Samantha Klasinski
I’ve always loved swimming in the sea but I was first attracted to wild swim in the river a few years ago when the eczema from the chlorine in my local swimming pool really started to flare up. Everybody kept telling me it wasn’t safe and too dirty to swim in but I just kept getting drawn to the idea more and more till one late summer’s day I took the chance and just slipped right in to the river. I was immediately addicted and haven’t looked back since.
I swim in wild water whether it's the sea, rivers, lakes or ponds every day, all through the year. Often when it's dark at night, or early in the morning before the rest of the world wakes. My morning ritual is to make a breakfast smoothie to take and drink on the walk to the river (the reason I moved to where I lived was to be by the water), then swim until I feel it's time to get out. My favourite swims have been a short ten minute across the River Guadiana to swim from Portugal to Spain and back, night swims on the River Thames in the full moon with fish popping out the water in front of you, sharing the water with the swans in Hyde Park Serpentine, being followed out of a stream by a snake holding a fish in its mouth at Alte, and swimming in the clearest water at Tresco in the Isles of Scilly. But really every wild swim is special.
The peace that comes with swimming in solitude from people calms my frustrations. Weightlessness in the water seems to carry my worries away so I feel supported but lighter than before I stepped in. Surrounded and enveloped by water is like being hugged in a way no person ever could.
Even when the water is wild and challenging it feels like an accomplishment, and reminds you to stay humble in this crazy planet. The wildlife and nature around you take on a new meaning. Instead of leaping away from me, frogs will let me come close, seeing me as an equal. Ducks fail to react to my presence as I am no longer a threat to them, and I finally feel at one with the environment, a lifelong goal I am continually working toward.
The cold water distracts me from thoughts in my head and noticing the body's physical reaction to cold water with that numbness, prickly red legs, and initial short sharp breaths is fascinating to feel. Plus the knowledge of the cold water slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure feels soothing and calming as it would in yoga or meditation.
As a paramedic in London I know I sometimes carry the little remnants of emotions, fears, and anxieties of what could happen to those around me that I care about. Cold, wild water seems to recognise this and wash them off for me so they don’t build up and become more consuming.
Wild swimming for me is a free daily therapy session, form of meditation, and free exercise… something we could probably all do with in our lives.
Our Why I Swim project aims to give voice to our untold swim stories and strengthen our fantastic community. If you would like to share your story, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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