Authors Sophie Pierce and Matt Newbury explore the hugely popular world of wild swimming:
The popularity of wild swimming has enjoyed an unprecedented wave of popularity over the last 12 months, when leisure centres closed and people were looking for other ways to keep fit.
While outdoor swimming was already on an upward trend before Covid, it has been staggering to watch the sheer number of people taking to the waters of the Bay throughout the winter months.
We certainly wish we’d bought some shares in the Dryrobe company at the start of 2020.
Such was the growth in popularity of wild swimming last year, that on June 1, 2020, the Outdoor Swimming Society decided to take down the swim map at wildswim.com 'in support of local communities being overwhelmed during lockdown'.
Fortunately, with 22 miles of coastline and 18 beaches, Torbay and the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark has plenty of places for people to safely swim without things getting too crowded.
As long as people are safe and respectful and take their litter home with them, then our beautiful Bay remains one of the most varied and picturesque places to swim in the UK.
Swimming is now at its most popular since the late Victorian era when Agatha Christie bathed off Beacon Cove and Meadfoot beach as a child.
At that time, swimming was very much associated with health, so it’s great to see the activity again making a splash in the world of wellness.
It’s been suggested that swimming over the winter months can boost your circulation and improve your immunity, as well as aiding weight loss – although we seem to successfully counteract that with the large amounts of cake we eat following a dip.
It’s all to do with the rush of endorphins our body releases when dealing with the cold.
It’s also supposed to be good for your libido, although we wouldn’t want to comment about that in this column.
Sea swimming is also supposed to be very good for the mind, which following the year we have just had, is more important than ever.
Experts suggest that wild swimming can reduce stress, improve mental health and boost our happiness.
A group called HealthScape CIC Torbay has started meeting in recent months, with the aim of enhancing people’s mental health and wellbeing by offering a variety of activities, including wild swimming in and around the coast.
They are well worth hunting out on social media, if you fancy meeting up with people and going for a social dip.
The question we get asked more than any other, is: “Why is it called wild swimming? Back in my day, we just called it swimming.”
The phrase 'wild swimming' was coined by writer, filmmaker and environmentalist Roger Deakin in his eccentric masterpiece Waterlog.
In the book, he travels the length and breadth of the British Isles, finding amazing places to swim and describing the nature around him in the most evocative and enchanting detail.
He inspired people to once again seek out places to swim in the wild, rather than swimming pools. To swim in rock pools and lagoons, rivers and streams, ponds, waterfalls and flooded quarries. To reconnect with nature, whilst having a keen interest in the natural history around you.
And that's what wild swimming means to us.
It's about having adventures and exploring around the next corner. It’s about respecting our natural environment and seeing the word from a fish eye perspective.
And more than anything else, it’s about friendship and having fun.
Over the coming months we are going to be sharing some of our favourite swim spots, while also exploring the wonderful world of wild swimming.
In the meantime, here’s to an endless summer and we hope to see you in the water soon.
Wild Swimming Walks: Dartmoor and South Devon and Wild Swimming Walks: Cornwall are available in all good bookshops and online from www.wildthingspublishing.com
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