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How to start Wild Swimming?

The Outdoor Swimming Society has a wealth of articles on everything from the benefits of cold water swimming to how to do is safely and what kit helps. The Outdoor Swimmers Code and the comprehensive list of Swim Groups are a great place to start. We have lots of tips in our blog and in our Salty Seabirds Community Page (see the files in the group). 

Where to Swim:

Heading off on holiday and need a wild spot to dip? Try Wild Swim a worldwide crowd-sourced wild swim map. 

On the benefits of Cold-Water Swimming:

Inspiring Wild Swim Films:

Here are some swimming films recommended by the group all put together in one place. Thankyou Dylan Howitt for kicking us off. Please add your recommendations with links to trailers or film below.

  1. My Big White Thighs and Me. My Big White Thighs & Me encourages us all to turn down the volume on the demands of the world and to celebrate the quiet heroism of a female life and it’s body. A story about womanhood, miscarriage, healing, loving your own skin & freezing your bum off in cold water. My Big White Thighs & Me is Hannah’s personal story of how she rebalanced her life and began to appreciate the small things by dipping her feet and taking the plunge.- https://vimeo.com/310618702
  2. Hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a short film by Friction Collective. It’s a story of adaptation, strength & rewilding set in the raw and beautiful landscapes of Snowdonia National park. Laura has not only overcome a life changing illness through wild swimming, but has also found a greater connection to the natural world. This has ignited her mission to make a stand for the natural environment, and protect wild waters and wild spaces across the UK. Katharine Ferguson is one of the Waterloggers for Laura’s We Swim Wild project to test source water for microplastics before they reach the sea - https://vimeo.com/417818416
  3. Chasing the Sublime. Why do we put ourselves into the path of discomfort and risk? What drives us to get too cold and too tired, to battle with fear, in the name of adventure? Follow the originators of The Outdoor Swimming Society, ‘swim twins’ Kate Rew and Kari Furre, in this hauntingly beautiful look at the physicality of cold water swimming in the UK, as two friends set out to chase the sublime. https://vimeo.com/292071219
  4. Waterlog. Waterlog is a short documentary which tells the story of writer and local Brighton sea swimmer, Joe Minihane and his battle with anxiety. Finding an antidote in the form of wild swimming Joe sets out to retrace the route of environmentalist Roger Deakin's nature writing classic, Waterlog. In a journey that takes him to every corner of the UK he eventually finds relief, not just in the cold waters he swims in, but by being open and honest about his mental health - https://vimeo.com/286134403
  5. The Ponds. Meet the men and women who swim all year round – come rain, snow or shine – in the three beautiful swimming ponds on Hampstead Heath, London. It’s a documentary feature film that the Salty Seabirds hosted a viewing for in 2019. https://www.thepondsfilm.com/
  6. We The Bathers. In this short documentary, fourteen people across the world reveal their unique connection to water. We the Bathers holds up an intimate lens to a series of disparate lives, leading us to consider how our bathing rituals might be shaped by our identities. Through a startling juxtaposition of stories from a grieving East Londoner, to a Sicilian sex worker, to a Japanese Buddhist monk, each person is given a platform to speak candidly about their experiences without restraint. Water is life. https://vimeo.com/344276768
  7. Bluehue. A short film about the joys of year round naked swimming in the mountain lakes of Snowdonia, N.Wales. Filmed, produced and swam by Natasha Brooks. www.tashbrooks.com https://vimeo.com/134002940
  8. My Octopus Teacher. A filmmaker forges an unusual friendship with an octopus living in a South African kelp forest, learning as the animal shares the mysteries of her world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s0LTDhqe5A
  9. Tonic of the Sea. A mini-documentary showing the link between mental health and sea swimming. Katie swims off the rocks of Penzance, UK nearly everyday of the year. Open water swimming has helped her overcome some of the struggles that life all too often throws our way. The hope is that her story may help others who are faced with similar challenges. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvViuv0vIKU
  10. Wild Swim. Wild Swim is a collaboration born out of a shared love of wild swimming between Kate Drucquer, Whitney Blank and Amy Walker. Amy was living in the Yorkshire Dales whilst the film was shot so there were many beautiful swimming spots to choose from but Janet's Foss proved the perfect location. The film brings together ideas around swimming for positive mental health and the joys of body acceptance in the wild swimming community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW3lclU5j24
  11. Afterglow. Short documentary about artist, photographer and outdoor swimmer Vivienne Rickman Poole. https://vimeo.com/156957605
  12. Kim Swims. Open-water swimmer, Kim Chambers, chases her biggest dream yet: to become the first woman to complete a solo swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge – a 30-mile stretch of water known for frigid temperatures, swirling currents and the world’s largest Great White sharks. Many consider it to be the hardest marathon swim in the world, and rightfully so, as only four men have completed the swim. Through the physically and emotionally challenging lead-up to the swim, the swim itself, and the candid interviews with her and others, the film presents a look into what propels Kim to conquer her fears, pursue her passions and achieve her greatest potential, all while inspiring others to do the same. https://vimeo.com/ondemand/kimswims
  13. Against the Tides. A documentary feature film I shot 'Against the Tides'. Beth French is an ultra-marathon, open water swimmer, and we follow Beth on her journey as she attempts to complete the Oceans 7 challenge in one year. Oceans 7 are the seven most dangerous and challenging sea channels in the world. https://vimeo.com/340774091
  14. On a Clear Day. A film about an engineer in the shipyards on the River Clyde, who becomes stagnant and quickly sinks into depression following his redundancy. A naturally strong swimmer, Frank gets an idea while on a 'booze cruise' with his friends to swim the Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQyIreMh01Y

Wild Swim related books: 

This is a list of books that relate to swimming, nature, water and/or wellbeing that have been recommended by Salty Seabirds. Please add to the list any you have read and wish to recommend. Add the Title, Author and a couple of sentences to describe the book. Here are 10 to start you off

  1. Waterlog: A Swimmers Journey Through Britain by Roger Deakin. Roger is a dude who had his own moat to swim in – which I believe Seabird Kate’s cousin now owns. He was an environmentalist and campaigned for public access to wild spaces including wild swimming. The book is a journal of his swims in fens, rivers, lakes and the sea. The way he describes the swims make you imagine you are there with him – pure escapism and real magic
  2. Floating: A Life Regained by Joe Minihane. Joe is a Brighton resident and swims off the beaches in Kemptown. He also came and did a complimentary talk for us as part of our Swimposium. Joe’s experience of anxiety really resonates with me, which is why his book is in my top ten. It’s loosely based on Roger Deakin’s book above as Joe seeks to swim the same swims.
  3. A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory. This is a short autobiographical read. Tom was, and still is the youngest swimmer to cross the English Channel. No offence to anyone who has crossed the channel since, but he did it 80s styley. The book is full of Generation X nostalgia, from the fashion he was wearing to the music he was listening to – a brilliant backdrop to a book about a boy and his swim coach.
  4. I Found my Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice. I have found many tribes over the years to meet my needs. But none have needed a tribe more so than Ruth with a husband with advanced MND and 5 (yes that’s 5) children. She starts swimming with friends who call themselves “The Tragic Wives” Swimming Club’ and they swim under the full moon just like the Salty Seabirds. Life affirming, tragic but also uplifting read.
  5. Wild Woman Swimming by Lynne Roper. This book is a collection of writings by the author who swam in Devon and particularly in the River Dart but also the coast. Lynne had survived breast cancer and began swim and continued to swim, all the while writing lyrical about her swims until tragically she died 5 years later from a Brain Tumour. Tanya Shadrick met Lynne, just once, a month before her death and promised her she would edit and publish her writing. And she did. Tanya set up Selkie Press Publishing specifically to do this. (I have heard Tanya read from the book – as well as being a talented and accomplished writer she has a velvet reading voice that you could listen to forever)
  6. Salt on Your Tongue – By Charlotte Runcie. This book, which I read very recently was the perfect combination of a personal story intertwined with mythology and magic. Charlotte writes as she experiences pregnancy and the birth of her first child. As she writes she explores her relationship with the sea and all of the women, real or fictional that went before her. Expect lots of quotes from the book in future blogs.
  7. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. This is the first book selected for Rowena’s Women and Nature Book Club . Amy tells her story of life as a functioning alcoholic and returning home to Orkney as part of her recovery. It’s very real read and when she resettles on the Orkney isles her experiences of morning sea swims and relationship with seabirds made me smile.
  8. The Salt Path by Raynor Wynn. I have read this 3 times! Another life affirming true story written by Ray about becoming homeless and walking the Southwest coastal path with no money, an ill husband and a tent. She is incredibly stoic, and so I found her hard to warm to, but her writing draws you in. A book about how nature and the sea can heal you and if you’ve got love you’ve really got all that you need.
  9. Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth. Since reading Salt on Your Tongue and the exploration of Women’s relationship with the sea I was keen to read this. Women haven’t always enjoyed the access to swimming that they have now. This book charts a social history of the women that went before us to gain equal access in 1930. It is also the author’s story of her experience of swimming.
  10. Swimming with Seals by Victoria Whitworth. It is someone’s story about her regular swims in the sea with a supportive swimming community and how her experiences changed her life. Sounds familiar........

So there you have it. Ten books to start you off. If you do decide to buy a book make a small business smile and buy from an independent book shop. Our favourite is Steyning Book Shop . Happy Staying In Seabirds xx

https://uk.bookshop.org/lists/salty-seabirds-swim-list?fbclid=IwAR26ASUO4-kjK1RK0aPtUQqPWlWctH4fVa2CEjvUT1FWeFU6vP0fnTILAZs

​​​​​​​Podcasts: 

We love listening to podcasts here at Seabirds HQ, almost as much as we like reading books. Both are a good substitute for when you cannot swim in the sea with your flock. So we’ve put together a list of our Top Ten water, wild and wellbeing related podcasts for you.

  1. Floating – We are big Joe fans at Seabirds HQ as he is a Brighton sea swimmers that uses cold water as one of the ways of managing his anxiety and has kindly spoken at our swimposium. When we heard he was doing a podcast along a similar theme to his book and starring some of his swimming companions from the text we quickly tuned in. The blurb says “Each week, wild swimmer Joe Minihane swims and speaks with well known swimmers at their favourite spots across the UK (and beyond). Exploring nature, the outdoors and the joy of taking a dip, Floating is an audio take on Joe’s book of the same name”
  2. The Mother of All Movement – hosted by Kathryn Meadows. We first met Kathryn when she has just started her podcast venture and she interviewed us on a noisy Brighton Beach before swimming with us. We are episode 9 of a now 60 strong catalogue that talks to women about moving your body in a positive way with a particular focus on the post children years. The blurb says “A place to inspire and inform mothers from any stage, and to chat about the trials and tribulations of moving your body after having your kids. I’ll be speaking to coaches, instructors, and trainers plus athletes and adventurers who all work with mothers in some way and also happen to be mothers themselves. This isn’t about perfection, standards or achieving, this is a conversation about how to make the best of the rest of our lives through a nourishing relationship with our bodies and minds.”
  3. Growing Wild FM – hosted by Charlotte Petts. Again we have been lucky enough to meet, be interviewed by and swim with Charlotte – again on a very noisy Brighton beach – where else?  It’s a monthly show which includes unique beautiful background noises of nature, music and interviews with really interesting topics. The blurb says “will show you the wonderful opportunities for connecting with nature in the countryside and urban spaces of Brighton and beyond. Covering wild food, foraging, wild swimming and adventure“
  4. Wild Swim – hosted by Jade – aka the Manchester Mermaid. The podcast launched in 2018 and has a total of 12 episodes . Jade is very much a Seabird and swimming has helped her through some tricky times. Times which mean there are long gaps sometimes between the next podcast but that just makes her more real to us! The blurb says “Swimming tales of adventure! From lidos to lakes, rivers to the sea, this podcast celebrates the joy of swimming in the great outdoors. “
  5. Swim Wild  – hosted by Karen Parry. There are literally loads of episodes, over 50,  to chose from. In each episode Karen chats to swimmers from all walks of life that do all types of wild, open and outdoor swimming. The blurb says “Meeting members of the wild swimming tribe and hearing about why our sport is so addictive.” So whatever type of swimmer you are from a dipper to a channel crosser you will find something you can relate to. 
  6. Downstream – hosted by Outdoor Swimmer Magazine. Only two episodes so far as a response to the inaccessibility of many bodies of water for most to swim in. It is a collection of readings from swimming related books, in many cases the author reading their own words. A really good introduction to books you may want to read or wonderful way to be reminded of books you have already read.
  7. Happy Place – hosted by Fearne Cotton. I’ll be honest – an ex radio 1 DJ and popular TV presenter talking about Mental Health was not appealing at first. Every part of my being was being judgemental about it, questioning ‘what does she know?’ Turns out A LOT and her very varied guests also have a lot of words of wisdom on how to find your happy place.
  8. Unlocking Us – hosted by Brene Brown. If for no other reason than listening to her soothing Texan drawl this podcast is calming. She explores what it is to be human and listening to her speak is like taking part in a free therapy session and you always come away having experienced a light-bulb moment about your own situation, relationships, emotions and feelings.
  9. Modern Love – Modern Love originated as a New York Times column which featured a collection of essays about love in its many forms. It has since become a book and a television series but nothing can beat listening to a story. Uplifting and heartwarming – what is not to like!
  10. How to Fail – hosted by Elizabeth Day. Elizabeth interviews people about their failures in life but as the old saying goes ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ This podcast looks at how people have learnt from their failures and how they have turned their personal situations around. Inspiring and uplifting at a time when we all need it!