4 Minute Read
Meet LOUISE…she’s a Shepherd-Pie-making, red-wine-drinking, mum of two who juggles managing and editing Stepps on the Level, a community magazine, lecturing in journalism to young adults and…WILD SWIMMING.
What is Wild Swimming?
Well when I was young it used to just be called plain old swimming! Nowadays I guess wild swimming is just any kind of swimming that’s not in an artificial pool.
How did you get started?
I grew up by the Norfolk Coast and spent a lot of time at the beach, specifically at Old Hunstanton. Having always swum in the sea I discovered the delights of river swimming on holiday in Canada a couple of years ago. My friend lives close to the Puntledge River on Vancouver Island, so on warm days everyone swims down there, dogs, kids and all.
How did you get hooked ?
I think one of the loveliest swims, which really gave me the bug, was a summer swim in the River Way in Surrey. Swimming through clear water at eye level with the ducks, under beautiful weeping willows on the river bank, makes you feel like you are the only person in the world. It felt like a silent, green and almost secret space and was incredibly good for the soul.
What equipment do you need?
A swimming costume helps! Although I am sure you could swim naked in some secluded spots! I live in Scotland so having a wetsuits is useful even in the summer months. And for me I always wear water shoes as I hate standing on jaggy stones or shells.
Feeling part of nature. Swimming in Loch Lubnaig or Loch Lomond, off various islands such as Inchcailloch or Inchmurrin with the mountains all around you and the black water encompassing you feels almost spiritual. It is peaceful, quiet and there is no traffic noise, just birdsong, it’s lovely. And a hot cup of tea when you get out is fantastic.
Getting in and under the water can be quite a challenge. Usually I just march in and don’t allow myself to stop until the water is at my waist, then I take a breath and throw myself into a breast stoke and keep going until the shock has worn off!
My husband and our two friends have this dare going on at the moment which is to do at least one wild swim each month right through until the end of the year.
How would I go about trying Wild Swimming?
If you live in Scotland, Luss on Loch Lomond is a great place to start . There are usually people swimming and Kayaking there…head to the beach to the left of the pier and take the plunge!
What else floats your boat?
Walking or running by the water, eating and drinking by the water, I am a real “daughter of Poseidon” according to my son. However he has read far too many Percy Jackson books, which explains his precociousness! At any given time being next to a river, loch or the sea, will calm me and boost my mood. And getting in to the water, well that’s even better!
I’m no longer thin, I don’t suit my hair tied up and I know a wet suit isn’t flattering. However, there’s no way I’m not going to do things I love, that make me feel good, because I am no longer youthful.
I’m living my life in my own way and am quite happy to do so.
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