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

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.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.