FEATURES,  View from the Water

Swimmers welcome

There are lots of great things about open water swimming – including our fantastic magazine 🙂 – but one that perhaps gets less attention than it should is the welcome that swimmers extend to each other around the world.

Earlier this week I had to go to Brighton for a meeting. I thought it would be a good idea to take the opportunity to do a little sea swimming so I contacted someone at Brighton Swimming Club. This resulted in an immediate invitation to join her and some of her friends for a seven o’clock swim.

To people who don’t swim, the idea of leaving London at 5:30 in the morning to be in the sea in Brighton at 7:00, in April, before a full day of meetings, might seem a little eccentric (to put it kindly). To swimmers, it’s entirely rational.

The swim was a pleasant spin around Brighton Pier in a beautiful flat calm sea just as the sun was rising and burning off the mist. It was followed by a further invite to hot chocolate and croissants at a nearby café.

So, a big thank you to the members of Brighton Swimming Club who made me feel so welcome. When you swim somewhere new it’s a real confidence booster to have other people in the water who are familiar with the local environment and understand the tides, currents and risks.

However, as kind and welcoming as the swimmers at Brighton are, I don’t think they are unique. It’s not the first time strangers have willingly stripped off with me to leap into cold water – and I hope it’s not the last. In fact, over the years I’ve received invites from around the UK and elsewhere and I’m sorry I haven’t (yet) had the chance to take them all up.

As editor of H2Open it’s part of my job to talk to swimmers so I do have a little advantage but I suspect any swimmer who’s travelling would find a similar welcome. Social media and the internet allow us to locate and connect with swimming groups almost anywhere we go, so next time you’re away on a business trip or holiday why not see if you can combine it with some open water swimming and make some new friends?

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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.