Before you go outdoor swimming, you should be aware of the risks. I thought I knew: the water will be cold, there might be things in the water you can’t see, the water won’t be treated like it is in the pool, there could be currents and undertows. It turns out that these aren’t the real risks at all, so to make sure that you avoid outdoor swimming, or at least make an informed decision before you start, here are some drawbacks that you should be aware of.
1) Swimming outdoors gets addictive
You begin to love the feeling of swimming outside. You may find yourself thinking “I haven’t had a swim for a week – where can I go today?” but over time this begins to change. It will become “I haven’t swum for three days,” then “Can I fit in a swim before work in the morning?” or “What time is sunset? Maybe I can swim before it gets dark.” Your use of language may change and instead of talking about wanting to swim, you might find yourself NEEDING to swim. Fortunately, you are not alone. A call on the SOS Facebook group for a companion to swim with, seemingly at any time from dawn until dusk, will find at least one, rather wonderful, like-minded person to join you in the water.
2) You will no longer be able to swim indoors
Although you are keen to swim, heated, chlorinated water will begin to feel all wrong. In a heated pool, you don’t get the skin tingling moment that hits you as you get into cold water. The freshness on your face is missing. Everything is too hot, and you can’t see the sky. Indoors, no herons fly over your head, no kingfishers catch your eye and there are no murmurations of swallows at sunset. You could swim, but it doesn’t put a smile on your face that lasts the rest of the day.
3) You start to look at water with different eyes
Every time you pass a body of water be it a river, lake, pond or possibly even a large puddle you will start to wonder if you can swim in it. It may be best to keep these thoughts to yourself if you are with non-swimming friends and family. They might not share your enthusiasm. As soon as you are with fellow swimmers, tell them about your possible new swim spot and you are certain to find someone to join you for a swimsploration.
4) Your petrol bill may increase
Unless you are lucky enough to live very close to a perfect place to swim, you will find your evenings and weekends involve a bit more travelling than before, as you start to think a half hour drive to get to a swim spot is perfectly reasonable. Maybe 45 minutes? For a place you love, or because you haven’t swum with someone for a while? Oh, all right then – I’ll see you there! On the upside, you get to see some parts of Surrey that you didn’t know about, or you get to see places from an entirely new perspective. Also, there is often someone to share a lift, and then you get the pleasure of their company for the journey too, so it’s not all bad.
5) You find yourself saying yes to things that seem really, really unlikely Meeting people you don’t really know in a car park somewhere, before jumping in a river with them – Yes! The people will be lovely, the river will be beautiful, and there will probably be cake. Getting up well before dawn in December to go for a winter solstice sunrise swim – Yes! There will be lanterns, a wonderful sunrise, lots and lots of amazing swimmers and shared breakfast baked goods (cake) to start the day: what could be better? Swimming by the light of a full moon – Yes! There will be beautiful calm dark water, the moon reflecting off the surface of the lake, a lantern on the beach to guide you back and hot chocolate with marshmallows to warm up afterwards. Going to the other end of the country just to go swimming – Yes, absolutely! More stunning places to swim: lakes, rivers, tarns and waterfalls. More wonderful swimming friends, and yes, more cake.
So, as you can see, there are serious risks to outdoor swimming, which should not be taken lightly. If this still hasn’t put you off, all I can do is wish you luck. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
By Amanda Burnham from the Surrey Outdoor Swimmers
You can contact the Surrey Outdoors via Facebook page below.