Survey shows big influx of new participants to open water

We recently carried out a reader survey that showed nearly a quarter of open water swimmers joined the sport in the last 12 months. Among the other findings we discovered that 55% of swimmers are in the water between two and four times each week with a further 16% swimming at least five times every seven days.

We then asked how often people swim outside and found that 35% do so between two and four times each week and 7% five times or more, at least in the summer. In the winter those numbers drop to a still impressive 7% and 1.5%. However, despite the growing popularity of winter swimming 64% of those surveyed never swim outside in winter.
How do people describe themselves as open water swimmers? 23% of people are new to the sport; 26% say they are non-competitive wild swimmers; 24% are long-distance swimmers; 31% are experienced competitive open water swimmers; 15% are adventure swimmers (e.g. swim holidays) and 8% describe themselves as cold water swimmers and swim in water of less than five degrees. A good number (23%) are also triathletes and we have several professional swimmers among our readers.
Note, the numbers don’t add up to 100% because some swimmers categorise themselves in more than one group (e.g. wild swimmers and cold water swimmer).
64% describe themselves as pool swimmers, which implies that people from most of the groups use the pool for either training or leisure swimming.
Open water swimming appears to be a very gender equal sport: 49.9% of respondents were women and 50.1% were men. Finally, almost 30% never wear a wetsuit.

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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.