The sport and recreation of wild swimming has never been more popular and especially in these uncertain times it seems the lure of the dip in natural waters has found new converts. The latest figures for those taking to the open water is a phenomenal 7.5 million. So what's the appeal?
The first thing to mention is the social appeal. Like rambling, rugby clubs or keep ft etc, there's the appeal of meeting like minds for a sport but always from diverse backgrounds and making new friends and socialising is never a bad thing.
Wild water swimming and cold water swimming are pretty much the same thing in the UK! - but, the initial and inevitable hit of the cold water can quickly pass and the adrenaline becomes a relaxer and that's why many talk of how the relaxation is such a mental benefit.
As the name suggests, the wild is the countryside and the benefit of the enjoyment of your surroundings. We're up here in the Lakes and the walk or the spin on the bike is the exercise complimented by the joy of the surroundings. For many, the swim, is that slow down - there's no phone ringing, no emails wanted or unwanted - it's you and your surroundings.
It's a relatively cheap way to give a sport a try but like all sports there are some warnings and awareness that it's important to heed and a great site to check up on the sport is The Outdoor Swimming Society. Loads of info and essential to find somewhere that covers all bases and safety awareness.
One of the great events up here in the Lakes, is The Great North Swim right on our doorstep - it's the UK's biggest open water event and is earmarked for 11-13 June on Lake Windermere. Fingers are firmly crossed for all to go ahead as planned this year.