I like to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone now and then. Last weekend, I did just that by going wild swimming for the first time. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but it was for me. I’m used to swimming in pools – I’m not even comfortable swimming in the sea.

Luckily, I was in good company as I was heading there with @thesegirlsrun. Many of us had apprehensions, but the group was super supportive, so if there was a time to face our fear, it was now.

Embarking on a wild swimming adventure can be both exciting and intimidating. I have a fear of fish, so I wanted to overcome this fear. Wild swimming offers a connection with nature that’s hard to find elsewhere. We went to Pool Bridge Farm in Wheldrake, a place of stunning natural beauty that has become popular for open-water swimmers. If you’re ready to take the plunge, I have prepared a beginner’s guide to help you navigate your first wild swimming adventure.

Choose the Right Location

Research the area beforehand. Familiarise yourself with any potential hazards and ensure it’s suitable for beginners. Look for calm waters and accessible entry points, such as sloping shores or designated swimming areas.

Safety First

Safety should always be your top priority when wild swimming, especially if you’re a novice. Even in seemingly tranquil waters, there can be hidden dangers like strong currents, submerged obstacles, or sudden drop-offs. To stay safe:

  • Never swim alone. Always go with a group of experienced swimmers or, as in your case, with a supportive group of friends.
  • Wear appropriate swimwear and consider using a wetsuit for added warmth and buoyancy.
  • Familiarise yourself with basic water safety techniques, such as floating on your back and treading water.
  • Check the weather forecast and be aware of any potential changes in conditions that could affect your swim.

Overcoming Fears

It’s normal to feel apprehensive, especially if you’ve never done this before. Take a moment to adjust to the environment, concentrate on your breathing, and remain calm. The water will be COLD! Don’t overthink it and just get in! Start in shallow water and gradually work deeper as you gain confidence. Remind yourself of the incredible opportunity to experience the beauty of nature firsthand and embrace the sense of adventure that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone.

Enjoy the Experience

Once you’re in the water, take a moment to soak in the sights, sounds, and sensations around you. Feel the cold water against your skin and admire the scenery. Let go of any fears and fully immerse yourself in the present moment. Take it slow and relish the freedom of being in the great outdoors.

Embrace Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy, which involves alternating between the cold of the lake and the heat of the sauna, can provide numerous health benefits. This practice, also known as contrast therapy, can help to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and enhance overall well-being. Additionally, it’s a great way to invigorate your senses and elevate your wild swimming experience. Personally, it was the sauna at Pool Bridge Farm that convinced me to try wild swimming. After spending time in the sauna, the idea of jumping into a cold lake became less daunting. It was the perfect way to end our wild swimming adventure in style.

Take warm clothes for after

Remember to bring clothes that are easy to put on after swimming, such as joggers, sweatshirts, and sliders. You could also consider bringing a dry robe to keep you warm after your swim. It is a good idea to carry a flask of tea, just in case. However, if you are visiting Pool Bridge, you are in luck – there is a café.

Reflect and Reconnect

After you finish your swim, take a moment to reflect on your experience. Celebrate and acknowledge the courage you showed by stepping out of your comfort zone – you did it!

We swam: Pool Bridge Farm, Wheldrake Lane, York YO19 4SQ
Check out These Girls Run – your group of safe, sweaty and supportive gals!