Dip into wild swimming

Until fairly recently, swimming in Scotland’s rivers, lochs and the sea was regarded as a pastime fit only for hearty adventurers, those seeking to blast away a Hogmanay hangover and raise funds for charity, or masochists.

For most people, swimming was something that happened in heated indoor pools or holiday beaches and geothermal springs. In the past few years, however, wild swimming has become popular, with groups springing up all over the country. 

Swimming in open water combines a sense of serenity, adventure and escapism with health benefits, exercise and camaraderie. It’s a total workout, but gentle on the joints since the body is supported in the water. Outdoor swimming can also give a boost to the immune system and reduce inflammation. Mentally, it’s said to be good for reducing stress, anxiety and even improves sleep quality. It’s also a good way to make new friends if you join a wild swimming group. It’s not a solo activity for safety reasons. There are lots of wild swimming groups around, many of which have their own pages on social media. Alternatively, just start a chat with someone coming out of the water. You can also find listings at outdoorswimmingsociety.com/uk-wild-swimming-groups/

Like most forms of exercise, you need to do a bit of preparation and have some appropriate kit before taking the plunge. Some people take to the water in wetsuits, while others favour swimming costumes and bathing caps. You’ll need a towel and might want to invest in a dry robe if you become a regular wild swimmer. You’ll need to leave your belongings in the car and to firmly attach your car keys to your wrist or bathing suit If there are other users in the water, particularly boats, surfers and people on jet skis, then a bright orange float that is towed behind you is a sensible precaution. You also need to be prepared for the initial drop in temperature as you submerge yourself in the water. Enthusiasts will describe this as exhilarating, by which they mean shockingly cold. 

Wild swimming combines the benefits of being in nature with those of swimming and can be done in any body of open water. Given that Aberdeenshire has over 200 kilometres of coast line, as well as pools, rivers, lochs and waterfalls, we have an unrivalled selection of options for wild swimming. If you have an extensive garden, you can even create a wild swimming pool to enjoy the experience without leaving home. The beaches at Cove harbour, Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Collieston, Balmedie, Cruden Bay, Lunan Bay, Findhorn, Cullen an Rosehearty are ideal spots for sea-swimming. 

There are groups throughout the region, including the Wet Bandits in Aberdeen, who swim at the beach at 6.30 every morning except Sundays. Many local groups, such as Swim Free Aberdeen can be found on Facebook and other social media platforms. Perhaps you could persuade a few friends and start your own group? 

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