Education - Wild Swimming

The Sheffield Telegraph reports: Wild swimming was once viewed as an eccentric pastime, the preserve of those who were immune to cold water and obsessed with the flood of happy hormones that result from immersion in frigid water.

In the last few years however, it has slowly become the adventurous pursuit du jour. Books have been written extolling its virtues, its health benefits and the pure, adventurous fun. Wild swimming hot-spots are now all over the internet and groups bringing a social element to the pastime are growing in popularity.

During the pandemic, Sheffield Outdoor Plungers (SOUP), a wild swimming Facebook group, doubled in size to over ten thousand members. Interest in outdoor swimming has soared with numerous people enrolling on open water swimming courses and joining online talks to learn about safety. Advice has been plentiful, encouraging people to be careful, get used to cold water, tune into their bodies and take time to gain experience and knowledge.

This country has a significantly restrictive attitude to accessing the countryside. We have access to approximately seven per cent of our land and wild swimmers and canoeists can utilise a tiny proportion of the rivers, lakes and reservoirs in this country.

Education is essential. Teaching kids at school how to swim, how to stay safe and how to act in important habitats should become the norm. We could reduce the number of fatalities and increase the general level of fitness. Introducing kids to dangerous sports teaches them to deal safely with it. Wrapping them in cotton wool is regressive.