A Guide To Wild Swimming | Open Water Swimming For Beginners

A Guide To Wild Swimming | Open Water Swimming For Beginners


(mellow upbeat music) – I’m feeling adventurous, today I’m going to be going wild swimming. Now, you might be wondering
what’s the difference between that and open water swimming? Well basically, there are no lifeguards, there’s no lane ropes and
it’s free and in the nature, it does feel amazing to get out there and just be at one with the water and your natural surroundings. But there are risks involved, as much as I’ve dipped my toe into a little bit of wild
swimming in the past, I think I need some help from an expert, so we’re gonna be speaking
to Professor Greg Whyte, who’s a wild swimming advocate, but also an ambassador for
the Royal Life Saving Society. Well Greg, thank you so much for coming and joining me and it is scorchio today and I am desperate to get in the water, but I know we have to kind of
discuss a few things first. So my first question is
what do we need to do before we can actually get in and swim? – Well, I mean, I guess that’s
the whole point actually, it is scorchio, the sun is
out, it’s a beautiful day, but that doesn’t tell you
what the water temperature is, – Right.
– I think one of the key things about open water and about wild swimming is
that you really need to know what the water temperature is, cold shock response is the killer, – Right.
– you know, that’s the one thing that
we really do worry about – Okay.
– and so knowing the water temperature is really important, the water temperature
here is actually lovely, so that’s gonna be great for us. – I should be alright in my wetsuit. – You’ll definitely be okay at the waist, I won’t be wearing a wetsuit today. (laughing) But you know, for me,
the most important thing about wild swimming is local knowledge, – Yeah.
– you know, it’s knowing where you’re swimming and what you’re swimming in and I think sometimes you
can take that for granted, you think, well this is a river, we’ll just get in and swim,
– Yeah. – but lots of things to think about, number one is flow rate, which is crucial, how quickly is it flowing? Local knowledge will tell you that, take a look at,
– Okay. – for us, the Environmental Agency website will actually tell you
what the flow rate is, but I like to do little checks just as you look in the water, you can see the weed,
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – and it is upright,
– Yeah. – [Greg] so that tells you
there is virtually zero flow, – Okay. – which is a good thing.
– Yeah. – So to some extent, it doesn’t
matter which way we swim, in general, what I always
say is swim upstream first, so swim against the flow first, because you may not be able to get back, if you swim with it.
– Right, very true.
– Yeah. – And when you say like
check the temperature, obviously like here, it’s really shallow, so we might all dip our toes in and go, oh, it’s nice and warm, but how would I know
what it’s like out there and if I’d be okay with that temperature? – [Greg] Do you know, again,
you’re absolutely right, surface temperature is different
to deep water temperature, so there’ll be a gradient, as you go down and remember, you don’t
always swim at the surface and also what you are doing is you’re disturbing quite a lot of water, so you’re pushing cold
water onto yourself, – Okay.
– Does that matter? Well, water is 25 times
more conducting than air, in other words,
– Right, it strips heat really, really quickly, that’s why water is so problematic. – And moving on, like equipment-wise, obviously I’m in my wetsuit, but what sensibly do I need to take, when I’m going wild swimming?
– Do you know what, all you’ve got to think is safety, you know, wild swimming is about safety, we like to imagine that
it’s about, you know, getting close to nature,
but the bottom line is that wild swimming is only successful, if you get out alive, (laughs)
– Okay. – and that’s really what
you’ve got to think about, so I think if you’ve
never wild swam before, then wearing a wetsuit makes sense, because not only are you gonna stay warm, which is one of the key issues for us, what it does, it adds additional buoyancy, if you get tired, you roll onto
your back and you’ll float. But of course, there is other equipment, that we definitely need to take with us, when we’re going out, but the bottom line is safety first and if you’re safe,
you’ll enjoy it a lot more and you’ll keep coming back. – Okay, so wetsuit and
you touched on a buoy, anything else that would
help like safety wise, that I need to take with me? – So again, a little
bit of local knowledge, so here, we’re on the River Thames, lots of boats come up and down, in general the boats see you, the boats, ’cause they’re quite high up, they’re looking down on you. The real danger is actually rowboats, because they’re going backwards and they’re going backwards at speed with not a great deal of steerage. – Yeah. – So what you’ve got to think about is what are you gonna
come into contact with, when you’re in the water?
– Yeah. – Critically you wanna be visible, so the great thing about these
is they are bright orange, – Yeah.
– or bright pink for a reason, – [Presenter] Glow factor, yeah. – [Greg] add on top of
that a coloured hat, – [Presenter] Yeah. – [Greg] make yourself
as visible as possible. Also the great thing about the tow float is that it inflates, so if you
do get into a bit of trouble, you can always grab a hold,
– Yeah. – and you can hang onto it.
– Yeah. – [Greg] So again, it’s about safety. – Yeah and beyond that,
is there any equipment you need for after, when you get out, if you’ve been somewhere
cold, what’s the like, are you still in danger of anything, once you’ve got out, like what? – Yeah, I mean, getting
out is the danger point, really,
– Okay. – and so the interesting thing is, that even in cold water, so you know, I’ve swum
down close to zero before, when you’re in water, core temperature actually
remains quite stable, because what you’re
doing is you’re swimming, you’re generating lots of heat and so you can just about
maintain core temperature, okay. When you get out, what then happens is you stop swimming and
you stop generating heat and then all of a sudden, you start to perfuse those
really cold areas of your body and so you get this thing
called the after drop, so when you get out of the water, – Yeah.
– that’s the danger point, because then what happens is
core temperature plummets away, – Okay. – and that’s called the after drop. So critically what you
should have with you is that when you get out of the water, you’ve got something that
you can dry yourself with, number one and also that
you can wrap up with. Again, great day today,
’cause we’ve got the sunshine, but if it was windy and it was raining, – Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– you know, I have seen hypothermia
on days like today, – Wow, yeah.
– you know, so don’t think just because
it’s relatively warm, you’re gonna be okay,
– Okay. – [Greg] Safety first, make sure you get everything with you. – Right, I know we touched on, you know, knowing the area, maybe looking
up the Environment Agency, if you’re in the UK, or
you’re local to here, but what other things should you check, that you know, could affect the swim, that you might not, even though you’re a regular swimmer here, that could change? – I mean, I think that’s the thing is that I think you can become complacent, when you’re a regular swimmer
in a particular place, but you know, one thing I never do is jump or dive into the water, – Okay.
– when you’re wild swimming. I know what’s here,
– Yeah. – I think, but something may have changed from the last time I was here,
– Yeah, yeah, yeah. – [Greg] so somebody could
have thrown something in, somebody could have fell in and so therefore you have
to be really careful, in my opinion, so always get in carefully – Okay.
– and always with safety in your mind,
– Yeah. – [Greg] so imagine even if
you’re a seasoned wild swimmer, imagine it’s your first time,
– Okay. – don’t get complacent, because I think complacency
leads to problems. – Yeah and say you were going, you’re somewhere completely different or I’d got here with a
friend for the first time, or say it was still water, is there anything else I need to check or how do I know if it’s safe? – Yeah, do you know–
– or the water quality is okay, how do I know that? – Yeah, I think that the water quality is probably one of the key issues and there’s lots of things
that can change water quality, so on the river, for example, we haven’t had rain for quite some time and so therefore it’s quite stable, – Yeah.
– but if you have overnight, heavy rain, then what happens is lots
of stuff is washed in from the banks into the water, now that can include pollution, so it can change water quality, what it often does though
is it brings in debris, – Okay. – so you often get big
sticks, logs, that come in, you don’t wanna hit those,
while you’re swimming, – Yeah.
– So again, just have a little think
about where you are swimming and make sure that you understand what the potential
problems are going to be. Never ever swim alone,
– Okay. – I never swim alone,
– Really? – [Greg] you think how
much open water I’ve done. – [Presenter] Yeah, I
am surprised at that. – Never, so anything can happen, so never swim alone,
– Okay. – and add on top of that, make sure that you tell
somebody that you’re swimming. – Okay, we’ve told you. (laughing) – But you know, again, it’s
just a safeguard really, but just let ’em know that
you’re going for a swim and in three hours time,
if you’re not back, – Three hours! – they’ll wonder where you are. (laughing) – Alright, okay, let’s get doing this. (mellow melodic music) Once we’re out there, how,
obviously today it is warm, but if we were say, swimming
here in the winter months, how long could we stay out? How would we know how
long we could stay out? – I think, you know,
keep it short initially, if it’s your first time in
open water, keep it short, – Yeah.
– just enjoy it, you know, five, 10 minutes
I think is long enough. – Are there any signs that
you would know yourself, that like what should we look out for? – With cold, you get things like cyanosis, so you get blueing of
the lips and the nose, not a good sign.
– Yeah. – For me personally, you get confusion, so actually what you do is you
get a little bit disoriented, – Right.
– you get confusion, when you’re asked very simple questions, – [Presenter] Hm-mm, okay. – Other things that start to happen, your fingers start to splay, as you get really cold,
– Oh, really? fingers start to splay,
– Okay. – and so there’s lots
of those little signs, that you can monitor yourself, but because you’re not swimming alone, what your partner should be doing is just checking that
everything is alright with you, so stop regularly, have a little chat, make sure everyone’s okay,
if you’re not, get out. – Okay, right I feel acclimatised, I think it’s time to take the mics off. – Let’s do it.
– Let’s get wet. – Yeah. (mellow melodic music) – Oh, that was so refreshing,
– Yeah. – Thanks for taking me
in, Greg, I loved it. But the only bit I didn’t enjoy was getting in and out through the reeds, now I’m a little bit of
a wuss, but jokes aside, like if it is really thick and weedy, is there any way to you
know, get through that, how do you cope with
weeds and reeds in water? – Yeah, do you know what, I
mean, there are weeds here, but it’s not too bad and actually that’s one of the key things about where you get into the water is that what you wanna do is pick a spot, where there isn’t much weed,
– Yeah. – it’s really no big deal,
– Okay. – [Greg] Unless it’s
really, really packed. – Well also, I think I’ve
got the wild swimming bug, so thanks so much for that intro, Greg, awesome.
– Good, well enjoy in the future.
– Will do. Well after watching that, you might be inspired to go wild swimming, but you might be asking,
how do I find a location? And it isn’t always as obvious as something like the River Thames, so a good place to start is have a look on
Facebook or the internet, you can find wild swimming groups or often websites, that are dedicated to showing different
locations for wild swims, but just make sure wherever
you do find a new venue, that you respect it and
respect the environment, so leave it as though
you’d like to find it and basically leave no trace and then all I can say is go and enjoy it, ’cause I am desperate to get back in and do some more wild swimming. If you’ve enjoyed this, make sure you don’t miss
any more of our videos, click on the globe to subscribe and if you wanna see a
video, when we’ve compared open water swimming stroke
to pool swimming stroke, then that’s just here.

65 thoughts on “A Guide To Wild Swimming | Open Water Swimming For Beginners

  1. Thanks For the PSA!! :D….. I do this everyday.. ( it warm now.. BUT I do this all year around d:D)
    YES SAFETY 1st always Survey the area before going in :D!! with a boggeyboard or Kayak.or Tube…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avr5sub19wA

    DEN GO WILD!!! 😀
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrH8Ebx2cZQ

  2. He should have mentioned the Wim Hof Method to counter/prevent the cold effects at the beginning. Good advice all round from that muscular dude!

  3. Awesome video GTN! You should do a more comprehensive series on wild swimming. Lots of triathletes train in the lakes and rivers here in Northwest.

  4. I've always noticed towards the end of open water swims my pinky fingers splay out uncontrollably- I thought it was cramp, but apparently I've been almost dieing of hypothermia all this time!!

  5. thanks for this very informative video.. with the recent swim cancellation at Ironman Hamburg i was wondering how you'd measure the blue algea level?

  6. I've had a look into this but can't find anywhere in my local area that I can swim legally. Where would I find out wher I can swim

  7. I am very confused… I've always thought there's no difference between OW swimming and wild swimming, but apparently I've been doing the latter all my life. I don't really understand why it's such a big deal either. Guess that's due to cultural differences: in Finland there's lakes and rivers everywhere, and people just swim in them, no lifeguards anywhere, and alone often as not. I'm just confused is all 😀

  8. @gtn can you guys cover swim toys (pull bouy, kickboard, fins, and paddles) and training exercises with these

  9. Not being able to see the bottom creeps me out a little because I'm used to staring at a black line. Oh and stepping on mossy rocks and getting tangled in weeds. XD

  10. Oooh was super interested in wild swimming when I saw a clip of Liz Ke's Wild Swim documentary. 😮😮 thinking of getting me a buoy and see where it takes me lol

  11. Throughout the video, I couldnt help but admire how lean and ripped the professor is. This guy is the perfect specimen. (Scientist, Olympian, European and World Championship podium places, OWS advocate, amazing physique)

  12. Archipelagio in western Sweden is lovely,

    One tip is to acclimatize for 10 min before the swim in shallow water if its cold (sub 18 celcius). Its easy to panic when its cold and the water makes it hard to breath

  13. Very informative video. Thanks for putting it together. So happy to see a positive spin rather than the very negative stories in the press currently about open water swimming. Common sense and safety should always be the first thought before getting in the water. More information like this should be given to kids rather than telling them they will die if they dare swim in a lake or the sea(!).

  14. From this definition, all my open water swims have been wild swims. How about a video for finding the best non-wild swimming areas?

  15. I also never considered the distinction between open water and wild swimming. The only time I swam OW with supervision was in competitions. Otherwise, it was always in whatever lake or river I was at. Typically, I also swim alone since not many of my friends are interested in swimming in cold rivers and lakes!

  16. Do you have any recommendations on "Cold open water swimming" particularly lake swims. I understand that lake swims "feel" colder that the ocean even at the same temp. I am doing the Ironman 70.3 in Indian Wells (USA) this December. I gather that the temp will likely be about 54degrees. Are gloves and boots legal in Ironman? I have a outdoor pool, which does dip down to around these temps in December. Will acclimatization to these temps help? Thanks

  17. I would like to know what he did to get so damn ripped with the right amount of muscle ! Man ! is he a professor of awesomology?

  18. Never go out alone, and if possible swim with the help of a kayaker or paddleboarder. All of our swims include safety staff, which is rarely needed, but important to have on hand. Good beginner video here and we would certainly recommend open water swimming to anyone who wants to try it (just be safe and pace yourself).

  19. There is a lake in Nottingham called Colwick lake were in the summer we go swimming, but sometimes we can’t go because they mention about the algee content can someone please explain to me why the algee content is dangerous to swim in? I’m not going to drink it. And when I walk buy I don’t even see any algee?

  20. Fishing lines and occasional ceraria are additional issues where I swim. An aggressive swan (because I was about to enter the water where his delicious waterveggies were swimming) on the other hand, is pretty cool to meet.

  21. Include a safety whistle in the kit. Other swimmers may not hear you yelling. They will certainly hear a safety whistle much sooner. the following is the best all-weather safety whistle. https://smile.amazon.com/All-Weather-Whistles-Safety-Whistle/dp/B001H8FJIW/ref=lp_13255687011_1_1?srs=13255687011&ie=UTF8&qid=1561936160&sr=8-1

  22. Rappahannock river, Shenendoah river, and above all, the New River.
    (Runners up, Potomac, Delaware, the resivior).

  23. "After watching that, you might be inspired to go wild swimming" Them abs are a great source of inspiration indeed 😍

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