16 Top Tips If New to the Wonderful World of Outdoor Wild Swimming in Scotland?

New to the wonderful world of outdoor wild swimming in Scotland?

If so you’ve found your tribe. Take our hands and we’ll guide you in the right direction with these 16 top tips.

  • Firstly – well done you. You are game to put inhibition aside and see what all this hype is about. Once tried there is no going back. Once you’ve dipped, you’ll have the story to tell.
  • It is always a great idea to reach out to people with local knowledge. There are many different Facebook groups so look out for one in your area. In the Borders – Wild Swimming Borders is a great contact source; in Edinburgh I really recommend the Wild Ones or Wardie Bay Wild Ones. In East Lothian the Gullane Guillemots, Salty Sisters in Dunbar.  In Berwickshire Coldingham Brave Bayers or Berwick Cold Water Swimmers.. If you join the group and ask if there are any swims organised that would be a good starting point. There is usually an experienced dipper who is happy to show you the ropes.
  • If you would like a more personalised session, then do reach out and contact us at Take to the Water we would relish introducing you to the water.
  • It’s better to start in the Spring or Summer as it makes the dip more enjoyable when going in for the first time, but it is not necessary if you take care and follow the guidance. Some people thrive on the colder water so that may just be you.
  • You do not need much kit to start. I suggest a costume and water shoes and work out from there what you need. I do always strongly also suggest a tow float. It’s a great piece of kit for you to be seen in the water, you can carry keys, phones etc if you have the one with centre compartment, and it’s useful to hold onto if you tire, become a little anxious or get eg cramp. Build it up from there. If your hands and feet get cold, then try neoprene gloves and booties. If you want to stay in slightly longer then do invest in a wet suit. But do ask around for suggestions or second-hand kit. If you’re planning on putting your head into the water, then a swim cap and goggles would be a good investment.
  • It’s not recommended to swim alone.
  • Don’t forget a towel, and layers of clothing which is easy to pull on when damp in the colder weather is key. A minimum of three layers on your top half is recommend which includes a t-shirt or thermal top, a fleece or two and a jacket. Baggy trousers are great, and a woolly hat is an absolute. We then have easy to pull on socks, dry trainers/ boots and gloves if your hands feel cold. We advise that you warm up your core first when you get out, so as you get undressed layer your clothes with trousers at the bottom, then fleece, t-shirt and woolly hat. When coming out of the water, you get dressed from the top of the pile down.
  • A warm drink is an important item in your kit for after your swim. This varies from warm Ribena, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, herb teas. What ever works for you.
  • As you walk into the water a squeal or giggle, or yodel Is perfectly normal. Whatever copying mechanism works for you is a good one.
  • Go in gently – a nice slow entry ensures you acclimatise to the water. If you pop your hands into the water or gently splash your arms, neck and face helps some people too. Ensure you choose a spot where the water gets deeper gradually to keep you safe.
  • It is normal for your breathing to increase as you get deeper into the water – just slow down your entry, control your breathing and you’ll soon be good to edge forward a little further.
  • Know your swimming ability – if you are a little nervous in the water you don’t have to take your feet off the bottom to get the benefits of the water but do try and cover your shoulders with the water.
  • Don’t stay in for long, start going in for a short time and work out how your body reacts and gradually increase to always remaining in a safe time frame.
  • You’ll likely feel very energised and euphoric after the swim. Relish it – it feels amazing.
  • There is usually some kind of sugary treats being shared after the dook that accompanies the blether. Again, all part of the fabulous swim regime.
  • Do your bit for the environment – don’t leave any litter behind and pick up any you come across to do your wee bit to help keep our corner of the swimming world free of rubbish.

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