Words and Photo by Jim Duncan
It’s May and early morning sees a hardy bunch of souls gathering to get ready to go open water swimming aka ‘wild swimming’ or ‘cold water therapy’ (we used to just call it swimming), at Duck Bay in our National Park.
Swimming is a great form of exercise for all ages.
Suspension in water helps to alleviate stress put on bones and muscles during other forms of exercise and is an excellent full body work out.
And it seems that swimming and being outdoors is not just beneficial for your physical health, but it may also be beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
Annette and Gail visit Loch Lomond regularly and enjoy swimming in all seasons.
“Entering the water slowly, allowing your body to get used to the cold is exhilarating,” said Annette.
“It gives my mood a huge boost the water soothes and calms me.’
Gail, who started wild swimming just over a year ago, added: “The time I spend in the water has a calming effect on me, listening to the waves lapping around me, or feeling their gentle movement as I float, enables me to relax fully.
“This reconnection with nature is invaluable.”
Annette emphasises the importance of staying safe when wild swimming. “Don’t swim alone,” she said.
“A friend will maximise your safety when wild swimming, and as a bonus it’ll make your swim more enjoyable.
“If swimming with a friend isn’t possible then trail a bright tow float behind you on a cord and wear a colourful swim hat – red is the most visible.
“Although they’re not designed as buoyancy aids and should never be relied on as such, tow floats also give you something to hang on to for a second if you need a rest.
“Some have waterproof pockets to put valuables in, or storage for water and snacks.”
And she explained that what you do when you get out the water is just as important as what you do when you’re in there.
“Listen to your body and don’t stay in for too long. You will be at your coldest 10 minutes after you get out.
“The best way to see yourself through the ‘afterdrop’, when blood returns to the skin and cools you down, is to change immediately.
“Dry yourself off (pat, don’t rub). Add lots of warm layers, and have a warm drink. Don’t drive until you’ve warmed up. Above all, stay safe & enjoy!”