Starting Out: The Beginner’s Guide to Open Water Swimming

June 28, 2023
5 min read

What is wild swimming?

Wild swimming, also known as open water swimming, is a unique and invigorating sport that involves swimming in outdoor bodies of water such as lakes, bays, rivers, and oceans. It's a fantastic way to connect with nature, challenge yourself physically, and experience a sense of freedom that you just can't get from swimming in a pool.

However, it can be difficult to know where to begin, and what equipment you’ll need - that’s why we’ve written this blog post to help those looking to start their wild swimming journey. If you’re looking for open water swimming locations in Surrey, there are a multitude of beautiful and serene locations, including our magnificent lake in the heart of Godstone. 

Our lake is a perfect location for both beginners and seasoned swimmers who want to experience the thrill of open water swimming. It's a whole different ball game than pool swimming; the water is cooler, you’re surrounded by nature and there’s a whole host of health benefits. 

Open water training at our lake in Godstone, Surrey is not just about the physical challenge. It's about embracing the wild, immersing yourself in the serenity of nature, and taking a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, especially if you’re based in London. We like to think of wild swimming as the ultimate form of self care, as it’s an opportunity to discover a new form of meditation as the calmness of the water helps to clear your mind and soothe your soul.

Whether you're a competitive swimmer looking for a new challenge or a novice looking to try something a bit different, wild swimming is a fantastic hobby that’s become increasingly popular in recent years. With tranquil blue waters, stunning surroundings and a friendly members community, Divers Cove awaits you…

Ready to dive into the world of open water swimming? Find out more about getting started…

The benefits of open water swimming

Immersing yourself in the calm of open water swimming in a serene lake such as ours can be a transformative experience. The mental and physical benefits of wild swimming are numerous and noteworthy. The act of swimming in natural, open water settings like a tranquil lake is not just an exercise for your body; it is a form of cold water therapy that can greatly enhance your mental well-being.

Firstly, let's focus on the physical benefits, which are copious. The act of swimming itself is a full-body workout that enhances cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, improves lung capacity, and promotes overall fitness. But when you swim in cold water, it adds an extra layer of benefit: it boosts your immune system, improves circulation, burns calories faster and can even increase your metabolism. This process, known as cold water therapy, acts as a natural booster for your body's regulatory systems.

On the mental front, wild swimming has been shown to significantly reduce stress and anxiety. The peaceful surroundings of a lake, combined with the rhythmic nature of swimming, can create a meditative state that calms the mind and nurtures mental resilience. Cold water swimming also triggers a release of endorphins - the body's natural painkillers - leading to a sense of euphoria known as 'swimmer's high'. This can greatly enhance mood and instigate feelings of happiness and satisfaction.

Also, the sense of accomplishment that comes from overcoming the challenge of open water swimming can boost self-esteem and confidence. It also promotes a deeper connection with nature, which has been linked to better mental health.

Top tips for new wild swimmers

First of all, our top tips for those new to wild swimming and hoping to go for a dip soon. It’s important to note that you will need to be a competent, confident swimmer before taking to the open water. You’ll also want to develop a good sighting technique so that you’re aware of your surroundings whilst in the water. With nature, lower temperatures and currents to contend with, being out in the open water is a completely different experience from pool swimming, so being a confident swimmer is essential. 

It’s for this reason that we’d also strongly recommend choosing somewhere safe rather than going it alone. All of our swim sessions are operated by fully trained open water lifeguards to ensure the safety of our members. 

Know someone else who’d love to try wild swimming? Why not bring them along to accompany you for your swim sessions?

Warming up…

Open water swimming, particularly cold water swimming, can be a thrilling yet challenging experience. However, with the right approach and mindset, it can be an invigorating exercise that benefits your health and well-being. 

When you first start with open water swimming, the difference in temperature compared to indoor pools can be a shock. But, don't worry! Your body is capable of acclimatising to the cooler waters over time - the secret lies in taking it slow. For your first wild swim, resist the urge to plunge right in. Instead, step into the water slowly, allowing your body to gradually adjust to the temperature. As you spend more time in the water, your body will start to get used to the colder water. 

We also recommend starting your open water swimming journey in our summer season - with a sandy bottom and turquoise waters, our lake is particularly picturesque in the summertime, plus our water temperatures can reach over 20C! Those new to wild swimming often find that the warmer water temperatures make starting out feel much more comfortable. 

If you’re interested in cold water therapy or cold water swimming, you should carry on swimming with us regularly through autumn into our winter season. The water will be much cooler, but with frequent visits, you will find yourself more resilient to the cold waters. Embracing the cold is part of the joy of open water swimming, plus we’ve got our handcrafted wooden sauna pods on site, ideal for warming up after your dip. It might feel challenging at first, but with perseverance and gradual exposure, you'll find yourself relishing in the brisk winter temperatures of Divers Cove in no time! 

What equipment do I need for open water swimming?

To swim with us, you’ll need a brightly coloured swim cap, a tow float and a wetsuit. We’d also strongly recommend bringing warm clothes to change into after your swim. 

Triathlon training: Is open water swimming practice essential?

Got a triathlon coming up? If you’re a training triathlete, practising in the open water swimming ahead of your race is key. This is because the swim sections of most triathlons take place in lakes or other open water, and wild swimming is a completely different experience from pool swimming. 

To ensure you’re ready for race day, try mixing up your training regime and adding regular wild swims. 

Dip your toe into the world of wild swimming…

Fancy dipping your toe into the world of open water swimming? We’re a friendly bunch, and we love seeing new wild swimmers join us! Purchase your membership here or book a swim today.

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