Updated: Sep 20
ITV News reports: A dip in freezing water may sound an unappealing, possibly mad prospect but the Beast from the East hasn’t stopped these brave outdoor swimmers.
Cold water swimming champion Laura Nesbitt took a dip in the water at Clevedon this morning. It was minus 3 degrees in the Marine Lake but she didn’t seem to mind.
In Cornwall, a wild swimming group known as the Battery Belles and Buoys gather for a swim off the Battery Rocks in Penzance every day at 11am. The current freezing conditions hasn’t put them off. They go swimming all year round and there is never a wet-suit in sight, regardless of how cold it is.
Membership of the UK’s Outdoor Swimming Society has grown by 30 per cent a year since it was founded in 2006, and now has 25,000 members. Wild swimming – in lakes, rivers and the sea – has become a year-round lifestyle embraced by thousands.
The BBC report: The University of Exeter Medical School and Centre for Ecology and Hydrology carried out the study. It concluded, compared to non-sea swimmers, the likelihood of developing an earache increases by 77% and for a gastrointestinal illness rises by 29%. As well as swimming, the risks also apply to water sports, such as surfing. Researchers reviewed 19 studies linking sea bathing to illness from the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway. They analysed results from more than 120,000 people.
“In high-income countries like the UK, there is a perception that there is little risk to health of spending time in the sea,” said Dr Anne Leonard.
“However, our paper shows that spending time in the sea does increase the probability of developing illnesses, such as ear ailments and problems involving the digestive system, such as stomach ache and diarrhea.
Dr Gaze said most people will recover from infections with no medical treatment but they can prove more serious for vulnerable people, such as the very old or very young. He added: “We have come a long way in terms of cleaning up our waters, but our evidence shows there is still work to be done.
“We hope this research will contribute to further efforts to clean up our coastal waters.”