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WHY SWIM OUTDOORS?

Swimming outdoors offers so much more than the pool, says Simon Griffiths

Outdoor swimming is: an adventure, a community, fitness, wellbeing, a race, a meditation, a way of life… The rewards of swimming outdoors are many and varied and this guide is here to support you to take that first leap into the big blue beyond…

For years, authorities have been warning us against swimming in open water. They say it’s cold and dirty, that there are hidden undercurrents and weeds that can entangle you and drag you down, and if you do happen to survive the initial swim, you’ll probably get ill afterwards. Later we’ll bust these myths and show you how you can swim outside safely, but firstly we want to answer a more fundamental question: why should you swim outside?

Perhaps the main draw – plain and simple – is that it’s very enjoyable. If you haven’t experienced outdoor swimming, that can sound surprising. If you’re used to swimming pool temperatures for example, entering open water can give you quite a shock (literally) but with a bit of practice you can tolerate, and even thrive in, a wide range of natural water temperatures. Swimming in cool water is a whole-body sensual experience. There’s an initial period of discomfort followed by a spell of feeling invigorated and energised.

Swimming in a pool can also be enjoyable too, of course. There is something special about being immersed in water. Perhaps it’s because it’s the closest we can get to flying. In open water you also get the pleasure of being outside – immersed in nature as well as in water. Swimming outdoors also gives you more opportunity to play.

You can leap off rocks, swing from trees into the water and dive through waves. And it doesn’t matter if you are nine or 99 years old. As well as enjoyment and fun there are outdoor swimmers who take up the sport for the challenges it offers and the satisfaction that comes from achieving things they previously thought of as impossible.

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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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