What will a Wild Swimming Session Look Like?

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Portobello Beach circa 1900

A flashback to the bygone days of the Golden age of the Victorian and Edwardian resorts. The number of brave souls venturing into the sea here at Portobello, increases daily. It lifts my spirits and at the same time sends ripples of fear through me. Where will they gain their knowledge of safety and good procedures? The Victorians used bathing machines to enter the water, paddling in the shallows in their bloomers.

So would you like to start Swimming Outdoors?

If the answer is yes, then read on. It is a life changing activity, with physical, mental and social benefits. You won’t regret the decision to get started – unless – you have a poor experience early in your Open Water journey.

You should begin by deciding who you are going to rely on to introduce you to this wonderful experience. Maybe you have a friend who is already swimming and might let you tag along. Maybe you will search out a Facebook or a Whats App group, who will offer lots of advice on local venues, what to buy and perhaps access to a swim buddy system. Or maybe you will invest in a few swim lessons with a trained coach. We can guide you to what equipment you might like to invest in, depending on your aims for your Open Water journey. We will spend time finding out about your previous experience in swimming and in Open Water and Outdoor Pursuits. We will tailor sessions to individual needs, take account of cold water tolerance and transferable knowledge. You will be given advice on procedures to adopt both in and out of the water, in order to ensure that you have a pleasant and successful swim session.

My primary sport has always been skiing and I see the learning and teaching within these sports as being very similar. It is unlikely that you would go skiing without having a few basic lessons. You would take a few lessons and get some pointers of things you could work on. You would go off by yourself or in a social group and practice these things, using your companions as sounding boards. Somewhere down the line you would go back for another few lessons to move you up another level in terms of performance or indeed to relearn some of the basics when the new season starts. If you view Open Water swimming as an Outdoor Pursuit, perhaps you will consider the safety aspects carefully before embarking upon the experience.

So what should you expect a swim lesson to look like?

Meet Maree at the agreed venue. Look out for the branded Royal Blue and Black Kit..

Meet Maree at the agreed venue. Look out for the branded Royal Blue and Black Kit.

We spread ourselves out and then chat through your Open Water swim experience, your aims for the future, the kit you have with you and some basic safety considerations.

Getting changed is not an easy process for anyone. Bring loose clothing and a large towel or changing robe to hide under!!

You can choose to swim in your swimsuit or in your wetsuit. I suggest neoprene footwear and gloves, as well as a hat or swim cap and perhaps a tow float.

You will have had to complete an online Swim Consent Form prior to your first session. This will ensure I know your ability and aims, as well as contact details. This is where the photo consent and GDPR consent is given.

We will organise kit so that it is easily and quickly accessible when exiting the water, as you are likely to be cold and this may lead to confusion.

You may want to warm up your body with some gentle exercises or stretches, you can do this as everyone is getting their kit organised and chatting to the coach about their individual requirements.

We will enter the water slowly, talking through safe entry procedures and ensuring everyone is comfortable – expletives will be tolerated!!

We will stick together and swim at the pace of the slowest in the group.

There is no pressure to swim, you may decide that a paddle or dip is sufficient for the time being. If you decide not to swim, you will be encouraged to put a cosy top on and paddle in the shallows.

Swims will be short, and joyful, perhaps 5 – 15 mins as the water temperature is still in single figures and will remain under 15 degrees until well into the Summer months.

If you decide to wear a wetsuit, you will be able to stay in the water a little longer but it affects your buoyancy and it may take time getting used to this feeling – I know it does for me!

When you exit the water, you will be instructed to get dry, dressed and warm as quickly as possible in order to start the rewarming process and avoid experiencing mild signs of hypothermia and after drop.

Once you are dressed and well wrapped up, you can enjoy your hot drink – which you should always bring with you. If you are lucky, I may even manage to bring along some cake. We will chat about the session, how you are feeling and intentions for further swims – whilst I ensure you are safe to drive, cycle or walk home.

It is really important that you do not have a hot bath or shower too quickly after your Cold Water Swimming session or you may feel dizzy or lightheaded headed – rewarm slowly with some gentle activity – I usually empty the dishwasher etc!!

I would love to see you and help you get started on your Open Water journey, or indeed help you progress your swimming to the next level.

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