WHERE THE WILD SWIMS ARE
All winter I've found myself coming back again and again to this must watch video. It's Gilly McArthur, meditation leader and founder of the Women's Trad Festival, using a hammer to carve a path through an ice-crusted tarn. In zero degrees celsius. Dressed in nothing but a swimming costume.
Gilly is the first to say that this kind of endeavour is not for the wild swimming newcomers, or indeed the faint of heart. Surviving in the ice takes a lot of skill and a lot of mental and physical preparation.
And yet, it seems like Gilly has not been alone in taking to our freezing lakes this winter. Cold water swimming, usually led by women, has become a much-loved pursuit.
Lyndsey Cole has been travelling the breadth of Britain to join wild swimmers from Scotland to the South Coast.
In Wales the aptly named BlueTits have taken to the seas on a weekly basis.
Ella Foot's Dip-A-Day for MIND has garnered global media coverage...and she's still a regular at Hampstead Ponds.
The serious benefits of cold water swimming on our mental and physical health are increasingly well documented. But as we can see from the near constant grin on Gilly's face, it's also just really FUN. It's exciting and ridiculous and wild. It's out of the usual. It's sheer eyebrow raising, spine tingling, enlivening SILLINESS. And in the often mechanised routine of fast city living, we all need a bit of silliness sometimes.
So if trying wild swimming floats your boat, there are loads of ways to give it a go.
Vivianne Rickman-Poole creates amazing wild swim weekends over in Snowdonia, while SuzannaSwims runs wild swim sessions up in the gorgeous Lakes.
And in London? Bugger it, I'm just going to have to give Hampstead Ponds a try. If you're up for a Spingtime Swim on Saturday morning, 13th April, just email me and I'll see you there.