A swim into the wild

Ever since the late Roger Deakin swam through Britain by river, lake and sea the term ‘wild swimming’ has been used to describe the age-old practise of swimming in natural waters – river swimming and other outdoor swimming.

Wild swimming has a long and fascinating history stretching back through the centuries. Nordic kings and earls of Orkney were famed for their heroic swimming feats and welsh mercenaries took to the waters in a bid to win the hearts of the women they admired.

Native Americans sat in sweat lodges as a way of purifying the body and mind in the same way wild swimmers submerge themselves in the murky waters of the Bristol channel to achieve a similar goal. Water has a healing quality; ancient Egyptians practiced bathing rituals in hopes of curing ailments. Being in water can also improve emotional health and mental well-being including decreasing anxiety and exercise therapy in warm water can decrease depression and improve mood according to research.

Unlike the more traditional pool swimmers, wild swimmers are less interested in the competitive nature of swimming and more in the varying benefits and attributes of open water and its nourishing qualities. 

This series depicts wild swimmers throughout the country and the reasons why they swim outdoors and bears witness to the beauty and tranquil nature of wild swimmers and their relationship with open water.

Using Format