July 2024 ‘Complementary sports’

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One of my most favourite feelings is swimming out into open water, leaving everything behind on land. Immersed in the water, face in, all I can hear is the trickle and bubbling of water around my head, looking into the depths or out ahead, nothing else in that moment matters. Those first strokes might feel clunky or sticky, but I feel free.

However, like many of you, I may have left someone behind. The non-swimming pal, the dedicated partner, the whole family! The stuff-watchers, the safety spotter, the one with a camera, the one with the picnic or the one who is more interested in the birds flying above us. Even though we love to outdoor swim, there are plenty of people out there who can’t understand why we plunge into murky water, in all weather, with ducks, muddy feet or until we can’t feel our fingers and toes. We may encourage, coach and hope to inspire them to dip with us, but if it isn’t their idea of fun, it is unlikely they will take the plunge.

I have been lucky to have grown up in a water-loving family, which is how I started outdoor swimming to begin with. I am also fortunate to have a partner who trusts me enough to plunge into water with me and give it a go, even in winter! But there are plenty of times when the love for a dip is lost on others and I have swum alone. I often enjoy the solitary experience but have at times felt guilty on longer swims knowing there is someone waiting at the end.

So, what to do if you are always leaving someone with the towel? Well, that is what this month’s magazine is all about. It is for our land-lovers, or for those who would rather be on the water than in it. We test some alternative water gear – Seabike anyone? We chat to paddleboard pros and hear from mudlarks. Scientifically, we can all benefit from being beside water, which is why we are often drawn to the sea, riverbanks and lapping lakes. A lot of fun can be had at the water’s edge, and you might find an alternative hobby for when you don’t fancy a dip yourself. I have a renewed interest in kayaking and learnt that paddleboarding isn’t really for me!

Ella Foote, Editor

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