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The ‘wild’ in wild swimming

by Katie Griffin

I’ve never been a ‘physical’ person, throughout my 40 years of life I have always been into more creative endeavours. It was only when covid hit when physical activity was essentially limited that I fully understood its importance.

Through a friend I was introduced to Poppy. We met and Firestone Bay in July 2020, she introduced me to the world of wild swimming, and I have been hooked ever since.

Now I know wild swimming may just be swimming outside to a lot of people but I feel that there should be a definite emphasis on the word ‘wild’.

There are so many factors that affect your swim. The unregulated temperatures, the weather conditions, interactions with wildlife and other swimmers. The freeing, exhilarating and sometimes terrifying thought that you are a tiny person in a large body of water completely at the mercy of nature.

I remind myself regularly how lucky we are to live in the southwest, surrounded by stunning beaches and coastline. If I crave shelter or cooler waters I can look inland to the moors for quarries such as Foggintor or Crazywell. Or meander my way down the River Dart. Each body of water offers its own unique experience and qualities.

Wild swimming has given me so much, the swimming community are such an amazing group of people, so friendly, supportive and welcoming.

I have made deep and meaningful friendships that I hold very dearly.

I am the fittest I have ever been, I swim every week and push myself to take on more challenges each year, such as the Polar Bear Challenge. Where you swim from November through to March. There are different distances and sometimes temperatures to achieve various levels. This challenge is a great way to motivate you to swim through the colder months. There is something extra special

about winter swimming for me, pushing your body to its limits in cold water can be exhilarating.

I have found the Chestnut Appeal swims are a great way to do distance swimming safely while also raising money for a great charity. I started on the Drakes Island swim, last year I did the Breakwater swim and I have recently completed the 4km Cawsand swim. Gradually increasing my distance each

year has allowed me to push myself and test my swimming technique. My next stage will be to learn to crawl. I love swimming breaststroke as you can take in all the beauty as you swim but if I want to swim further and faster I will need to learn to crawl effectively.

I find the act of swimming itself a very mindful practice and feel it grounds me. There are so many adventures to be had and places to explore. I often post about my swims on Facebook with a couple of pictures. One picture usually depicts the same smile on my face in front of different bodies of water. That smile perfectly represents how I feel each time I’m enveloped by the water. Happy, content and free.

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