WildSwim app

New app for finding swimming spots in the UK

A new app that allows users to upload swimming spots for the outdoor community to see and explore has launched on the App Store. We spoke to WildSwim’s founder and creator Ren Barons about what inspired him to create the app, and how it’s been received so far.

WildSwim is a new app that allows users to upload swimming spots for the outdoor swimming community to see and explore. Users can input a range of information, including what facilities are available, tidal details, winds the swimming spot is sheltered from, and any hazards. The app then uses its algorithm to calculate the best time of day to swim at each spot, based on several inputs. According to the WildSwim’s founder Ren Barons, the value of the app will increase as more users upload their local swim spots for the outdoor swimming community to explore.

We spoke to Ren about what prompted him to create this app, and how it’s been received so far.

Ren, tell us about your new app. How will it help outdoor swimmers?

WildSwim is designed to provide all the information a swimmer needs in one easily accessible place.
It’s also made to be as easy to read as possible.

The app is designed around safety. When the users upload their swim locations, they have a section where they provide details about any hazards at the spot, the facilities, parking, etc.

The app does some churning, pulling in the tide times and local weather, and an algorithm spits out the best time of day to swim based on lots of factors, including the tide, wind direction and wind strength. It also advises the maximum time that should be spent in the water based on the current water temperature, before the risk of hypothermia increases.

You can also add your preferred spots to your favourites list and rate and review a swim location.

Tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to create the WildSwim app.

I come from a finance background. I’m a keen surfer and my mum is a keen swimmer. She swims daily with her small group, the Bathing Beaus & Bluebells, who are based in Jersey. I join in when there aren’t any waves, which is probably a couple of times a week. I try and do it all year, but there’s usually a week in February when I can’t bring myself to get in!

The reason I designed the app is because my mum had a scary experience with her group, which I hope the app will prevent in the future.

Jersey hosts a Christmas event called the 12 Bays of Christmas, which encourages people to swim in 12 chosen bays over the Christmas period. My mum’s group were swimming in one of those bays in mid December a couple of years ago and there was a strong rip tide at one end of the bay. It was well known to locals, but it wasn’t my mum’s local spot, and they weren’t aware of the hazard. Two of them were swept out and needed to be rescued. It was a close thing and my mum was really shaken up by it. It was really cold and she was lucky not to get hypothermia.

I also noticed that my mum used to check three or four different webpages/apps to get all the info she needed before swimming. This motivated me to sign up for some online courses and teach myself to code. After I’d made enough progress I started building the app. The whole process took about 20 months.

So the app was built mainly to help my mum and her swim group. It’s free, although there are more costs than I anticipated when running the app, so I have added a premium option (£3.95 / year) if you want to extend the forecast. I’m hoping this covers the costs of running the app, and it would be great if there was some left over so I could treat myself to some new Budgy Smugglers!

What’s been the response so far?

I tested the app on my mum’s swim group and they all loved it. They told me that they now know where and when is best to swim, and whenever/wherever they travel they can easily see nearby swim spots and get all the info they need before swimming. Her group is already discussing a swim holiday, for which they’ll use the app to do a tour of the south west, swimming in all the spots the app reveals.

I would love for WildSwim to become the go-to app for outdoor swimmers in the UK, allowing them to swim in new locations with confidence.

WildSwim launched in December and we already have 600 users. The app relies on people adding their local spots, so its value will increase as more information is added to it. So far we have more than 200 spots in the UK, which I’m really happy with, seeing as we only launched three weeks ago, and it’s mid winter!

I’m still making updates based on feedback, and I’m always keen to hear people’s thoughts. Please send any feedback or questions to me at wildswimapp@gmail.com.

You can download the WildSwim app from the App Store and Google Play. Follow WildSwim on Instagram for updates.

Stay up to date with The Dip, our free weekly outdoor swimming newsletter.

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.