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TRUE ADVENTURE IN OUR OWN BACKYARD

In September 2016, Ian Rivers, Nicola Goodwin and Julie Hardman became the first people to swim and walk the entire length of the River Wye from the source at Plynlimon through to the Severn estuary
True adventurers: Julie, Nicola and Ian

We were freezing, every part of our bodies ached and all three of us smelled horrific: a mixture of mud, wee, sweat, neoprene and a whole host of other stenches that we were too scared to find the sources of. It was day nine of our challenge, day six of our swim, and it was starting to get tough.

We were swimming between Ross on Wye and Goodrich and, from the start; we’d known that this would be one of the toughest days. The River Wye meanders in huge arcing curves through the valley with cliffs on one side and high banks and ploughed fields on the other making it difficult to navigate by landmarks or find a suitable place for our support team to bring us food and drink. We’d had to use a rope to climb up an irrigation pipe through nettles and thistles to get our first hot drinks that morning and it was a long way to our second stop. As we rounded a bend we were greeted with an explosion of feathers covering the surface of the water; a mixed flock of swans and Canada geese were sitting on the shingle beaches and floating in the shallows.

There were birds everywhere, at least 200 of the majestic creatures moving effortlessly through the river. Ian was ahead so he signalled to move towards the left bank away from the bulk of the flock, we followed and so did the birds. For the next few miles we experienced something unexpected and unrepeatable as we swam with and alongside the birds through deep, clear water. They displayed only curiosity, not fear, and we all had huge grins on our faces as we made our way downstream. This moment summed up our challenge; it was difficult but every second was worth it thanks to the chance to become part of river life.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Welcome to the first issue of Outdoor Swimmer! We are dedicated to providing inspiration and information for people who swim outdoors – and for people who want to swim outdoors but haven’t yet quite plucked up enough courage to escape the confines of the pool. If you were a reader of H2Open, the former name of Outdoor Swimmer, we hope you will be pleased with the changes we have made. But don’t worry, we haven’t changed radically! We still have all the same great features we had before, but the changes we have made are those that were suggested by you in our reader survey. We will focus more on the social aspects of outdoor swimming and increase our coverage of wild swimming, as well as expanding our training section to include distance-specific plans to help you reach your swimming goals. We are also thrilled to have joined forces with the Outdoor Swimming Society to bring you reviews of all the best kit for outdoor swimmers. This issue we look at goggles, next month we will be reviewing wetsuits. Let us know what you think of the changes, and what you would like to see more (or less) of in Outdoor Swimmer. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor
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