I'm a pool swimmer and I want to start swimming outdoors while pools are closed: what should I do?

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The letter below, is an example of many similar letters we're receiving at the moment, so we thought we'd share our reply.

I am very interested in trying outdoor swimming, but feel that I would need to either join a small group or have a supervised session just until I get my confidence. I am someone who regularly swims 60 lengths in my local pool, but I cannot say with any confidence that these have been completed without stopping to rest when required. I am a key front line worker for a busy hospital and during these stressful times I think this would really help me recharge my batteries whilst improving my fitness. I am just a bit worried that being new to this I may get left behind, could you please advise me.

Thanks for your note. It’s great that you want to try outdoor swimming. I’m sure you’ll love it. Swimming, and in particular swimming outside where you can connect with nature, is fantastic for relaxing and recharging your batteries.

It’s also a good thing (and normal) that you are wary and want advice. Open water can be dangerous but you can remove most of the risks by taking a few sensible precautions. I think you’re absolutely correct in wanting to swim with a small group (now that we’re allowed to exercise outside in groups of up to six people) or at a supervised venue.

Your biggest problem right now might be finding a slot at a supervised venue as most currently require pre-booking and some are only giving slots to experienced swimmers. I’m not sure what your nearest open venue is, but take a look at the venues list on our website, and then contact a few to see if they are offering introductory sessions.

Failing that, search Facebook for local swimming groups and contact one of them. The majority are friendly and welcoming. Swims are often (socially distanced) social outings, so speed isn’t an issue.

The following (free) resources may also help:

Best wishes, and good luck with your outdoor swimming journey. Let us know how you get on.

01 Cover December

Issue 44 December 2020

  • Finding joy in 2020: Sarah Thomas looks back on a very strange year
  • Motivation: triple Olympian Keri-anne Payne on dealing with changing situations
  • UnstoppaBull: the extreme adventurer who swam in the highest lake on earth
  • Wild swimming: misadventures in the Peak District
  • Soul Cap: solving the problem of swimming with afro hair

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