The wet version of Forest Bathing.
The current craze for ‘wild swimming’ came from England and began making the news several years ago. Wild swimming, also known as open water swimming and cold-water immersion, is simply swimming outdoors in a natural area like a lake or the ocean, which has been popular since the first century in England. Britain has over 40,000 lakes and an enormous coastline. The ocean water rarely gets above 68 degrees and the lakes are even colder. Outdoor swimming in England usually ends in October but with the resurgence of wild swimming, the hardiest wild swimmers keep swimming until temperatures drop below freezing and they have to break a channel through the ice.
In the 20th century, swimmers moved on to man-built chlorinated pools. By 1980, the U.K.’s inland waters had become badly polluted. Since then, water quality has greatly improved and summer temperatures are soaring, so the appeal of wild swimming has increased. Last month the U.K. Daily Mail reported that the search for wetsuits for wild swimming was up 495%, and Google searches were up 86%. During the pandemic, wild swimming’s popularity grew in the U.S. and other countries. Pool lockdowns forced many swimmers to turn to open water swimming.
What’s appealing about wild swimming?
- There are swimming clubs that offer swimmers company for safety, especially for ocean swimming.
- There is currently increased interest in cold therapies like cryotherapy, and swimmers enjoy the cold-water immersion and the mood-elevating results of a cold swim.
- It is an affordable sport.
- Wild swimmers claim an improvement in their mental health, their hair and skin, and better immune systems.
- It is a low impact, joint friendly sport with no age limit.
- Many wild swimmers prefer to swim naked, so if that floats your boat, go for it!
- It is a lovely and inexpensive way to explore beautiful and secluded places.
These are the most gorgeous freshwater lakes to swim in the U.S., according to Live Science.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
- Lake Tahoe
- Tettegouche State Park
- Emerald Lake
- Crater Lake
- Bottomless Lakes
- Lake Crescent
- Flathead Lake in Montana
- Pyramid Lake
- Norris Lake
From Wild Swimming Guide
Credit: Cultura RM Exclusive/Stuart West/Getty Images
For a list of the 16 Best Swimming Holes in the U.S. from Travel and Leisure click here.
For a list of the Best 19 wild swimming places around the world, click here.
Click here for our earlier article on Forest Bathing.