Let's Go Swimming!
Lots of people around the world uphold the tradition of taking an outdoor dip on Boxing Day. More of a plunge than a swim, it is clearly exhilarating and everyone claims it's the most awake they feel the whole year.
Salt-Water Europe is based in London and we are all fans of the Hampstead Ladies Ponds. One of our team recently took her eldest daughter (who is 9 years old, a nature lover and a strong swimmer) for her first visit. She had to do a little test for the lifeguard to show that she was competent and then they swam around with the baby ducks, afterwards warming up on their towels in the sun.
A growing number of people now swim throughout the year in cold, non-chlorinated fresh or sea water. Kate Rew founded the OSS (Outside Swimming Society) in 2006. There were 300 members when the society started, now 20,000 have signed up. Her book, Wild Swim, is full of ideas for interesting places to swim.
Writing on the OSS website Jonathon Knott observes
‘when we go on holiday we tend to adopt a semi-aquatic state, punctuating our days with dips in the pool, lake or sea. Being in or around water automatically transforms our mood. There is something both anarchic and calming about it.’
There is even a serious scientific theory which claims human aquatic origin – The Aquatic Ape theory. It divides scientists but there are people who believe in the evolutionary idea that we were amphibious apes who lost their fur and started to walk upright.
The overall quality of our rivers and beaches has improved. The UK’s Environment Agency says that water companies have invested £3.4 billion into environmental improvements since 2010, plus several urban lidos have been spruced up to encourage city dwellers into unheated waters. Recently there has been exciting talk of sinking a natural swimming pond into the Kings Cross regeneration area behind Granary Square in London.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s go!