Wild Swimming

So we’ve added wild swimming to the App (Yay!!):

What is it exactly, in case the name doesn’t immediately give it away: Essentially, wild swimming is: “Swimming in any natural body of water - whether it be a lake, pond, river, or the ocean.”

Cold water swimming is on the rise, big time. Wild Swimming is probably the most accessible adventure sport activity there is, after all, all you need to do is get into the water and swim right?

Well, lets pause for thought before just diving in. What should we think about?

If you are not into the concept of wild swimming don’t be put off reading this. Ultimately for all action sport water users we have many synergies, the main one being, at some point you are going to end up immersed in the water. There are many factors with regard to the locations that one can wild swim that fit in really well with the Buccaneer App – We have an existing database of locations many of which, wild swimming is an activity that is very much front and center as an option. Clearly conditions that may be good for Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Wing Foiling etc. don’t necessarily lend themselves to a swim but it’s not always windy right. The waves are not always cranking!!

On all of our costal locations we try to feature tide and weather conditions and we have just added water quality courtesy of data from the environment agency. We are super excited about that!!

Clean water is big on our agenda and we feel the more people are aware of the water quality the better. Not only will you stay safe and well but where a water company and or an industrial/agricultural stakeholder is misusing and polluting our environment , the more people are aware will naturally put pressure on the misusers to clean their act up…. Literally!!


Tips for getting started and Safety.

Let’s think about the name Wild swimming – you are going to get into natural “wild” bodies of water: The Sea, Rivers, Lakes, ponds etc. They are by their nature wild places and need to be treated with respect, never feel like to have to get in.


  • Make sure you know how you are going to get out before you get in.


  • Do not swim in canals or rivers in urbanized areas.


  • Do not jump, particularly from a height in to water you do not know the depth There may also be submerged hazards close to the surface.


  • Don’t swim alone, Swim with Friends: Wild swimming is much more fun in company – go with friends or join a group. If you are not a confident swimmer, go and get some lessons it’s never too late to learn!!


  • Environment – In the wise words of mountaineer John Muir: “Leave nothing but foot prints, Take nothing but pictures, Kill nothing but time.” Be respectful of the wild places. We share these beautiful and awesome spots with the wildlife that in many ways have significantly more right to be there than us. Particularly when getting in and out of the water. River banks, lake shores are essential and vulnerable habitats for animals and plants alike.


  • Water pollution and algea: Talking of the environment, water quality can be a problem in the UK - Sewage pollution and run-off from from agriculture, roads, landfill and poor waste management – otherwise known as diffuse pollution is sometimes released into fresh water bodies (rivers, ponds and lakes) and the ocean. With regard to freshwater swimming be aware of Blue-green algae, it is a slippery and potentially dangerous substance. Avoid if possible. If it’s rife, move to a different location. It’s most commonly found around lakes in the late summer, and can cause skin rash, irritation to the eyes and sickness if swallowed.


  • Cold Water: If you are totally new to getting into cold water get a medical check-up. Cold water shock can be extremely stressful on the body.  It’s very important to enter the water slowly and allow time for your body to get used to the cold. Never jump or dive straight in, as this could cause cold water shock.

    To help yourself acclimatise, splash the cold water on your neck and face. Try not to hold your breath for an extended time when you first get into the water. “Float to live” Entering water under 15 degrees centigrade can seriously impact your body. It can feel like your body is struggling to breath and even move your limbs properly. When you get into the water it is best to acclimatise to the temperature. Relax and float on your back until you feel like you are in control of your breathing and you can move freely and the shock of getting into the cold-water passes. Also when wild swimming its easy to get tired. If this happens roll on to you back to rest and hold on to something that floats the best thing is a “tow float”


  • Tides, Currents, Weather: Every wild swimming spot is different. Before you enter the water, assess the conditions what was safe on one day may not be safe on the next. If the water is too rough for swimming, don’t get in. Know your limits – depending on the conditions, you may need to swim less or closer to the bank or shore. Stay within your depths and swim parallel to the shore. The wind can push you off course when open water swimming, keep an eye on your exit point and make sure you can return to it.


  • The Right Equipment: Wetsuits are great!! They obviously will help you keep warm and they can also increase your buoyancy. Being visible in the water is important as well. It helps other water users to be aware you presence and makes you easier to spot if you get in to trouble. A brightly colored swim hat is a good idea and an absolute must, a tow float!


  • Wear foot wear if you can. When you are wild swimming who knows what you might tread on


  • In Case of an emergency: You should always carry a means of calling for help when open water swimming or cold water dipping. This could be a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch. Remember, if you don’t have any mobile phone signal, don’t panic. You can still try calling 999 or 112, even if your own mobile phone network has no coverage. Your phone will try to connect to any other network available.

About the author

Mountain Biker, Surfer,

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