Nowca wild

A new app for wild swimming

NOWCA has released premium features for NOWCA Wild, a new app for exploring wild swimming locations, tracking your swims and connecting with others in the swim community. Digital editor Abi gave it a try.

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With a smartphone in your hand you really do have the world at your fingertips, with the dizzying array of apps that can enhance aspects of your life in so many ways.

Outdoor swimming has become a huge aspect of my life recently, and now we’re fully into the open water season I’m looking to take my training into wild waters, seek out new swimming spots and connect with fellow open water lovers. 

I was thrilled when NOWCA invited me to try NOWCA Wild, a new app for exploring wild swimming locations, tracking your swims and connecting with others in the swim community. 

So easy to use

I downloaded NOWCA Wild from Google Play (I have an Android phone) and browsed the two membership options. The Free option allows you to search swimming locations, join swim groups, plan a swim distance, track your swims, set up a safety contact and access NOWCA’s educational resources, including cold water advice and safety tips.

The Premium option (£15 for a year) allows you all the Free features plus you can set up multiple safety contacts, create your own swim group, post messages to groups, get insurance cover for every swim and have access to over 40 managed venues. You also get access to the wide range of NOWCA perks offered exclusively for members from well known brands.

I opted for the Premium membership and spent a happy few minutes navigating myself around the app, which seemed intuitively laid out and user-friendly. 

An impromptu swim

My first proper use of the app was on a leisurely Sunday morning. I was on my way to visit a friend on the outskirts of Bristol and I thought I’d squeeze in a swim beforehand. I clicked ‘Explore’ on the NOWCA Wild app and a place called Clevedon Marine Lake popped up on the map. It’s a swimming spot I’d heard lots of rave reviews about, so I decided to give it a try, using the app’s directions to guide me there. The app’s listing about Clevedon provided lots of information about the lake, including its history, events and activities.

I had the best morning swimming a couple of lengths in the glorious tidal pool, chatting to fellow swimmers and sampling coffee and cake in a local cafe, so I was chuffed the app had brought this swimming gem to my attention.

Training aid

The next aspect of the app I tried out was the Swim Tracker, for my first open water training session of the year. It was easy to use – I simply pressed Start on the tracker (this automatically sent a notification to my Safety Contact, letting them know where I was) then I popped my phone into my tow float and began my swim. Afterwards, back on the shore, I was amused to see the wobbly line of the tracker illustrating my efforts to dodge a hissing goose with her babies.

The tracker recorded the distance and time I’d completed my swim – useful for me to track my progress on future training sessions. The time between starting and finishing my swim on the app also meant there was insurance coverage for any injuries during my swim.

I haven’t been able to find an immediately local swim group on the app yet but there is a group that meet at a lake not too far away, which I visit occasionally, so perhaps I’ll reach out to meet them for a swim soon. There’s nothing stopping me creating my own swim group on the app, so that’s an enticing option too!

Overall, I’m happy with the ease and usefulness of the NOWCA Wild app, and excited to see its network of open water locations and swim communities across the UK continue to blossom. 

NOWCA Wild is free to download on the App Store and Google Play. Find out more at

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for The Guardian, BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.