Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The wonder of wild swimming

As I write this, my running gear is drying on the bannisters and my trainers are in a muddy heap by the door. I actually enjoy running in the rain - perhaps more than doing so in the sunshine - and it's been such a slow start to Autumn I'd begun to forget what it's like to embrace the elements. Something about being outside when you work out is exhilarating and challenging in a way that a gym fix can never be.

And this is much the same feeling that Andrew Fusek Peters describes so well in his lyrical memoir 'Dip', which records a year of  extraordinary wild swimming experiences. As I sat aboard the Hibernia last week at the Henley Literary Festival, listening to Peters read from his book, I was enthralled by his enthusiasm for the outdoors - and bravery for taking the plunge (literally!) - where others would hesitate, or simply pass by unawares of the beauty and potential these places offer for both the body and soul.

In the pages of his book, Peters leads us to rivers, lakes, waterfalls and hidden pools, and explores how immersion in these wild waters inspires and heals him. The narrative charts his swims in the borderlands of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Wales across all four seasons, and the nature he encounters, melding these experiences with his personal journey back from depression. 

Whether it's a soak at sunset, a dive into icy depths or an extreme subterranean swim in mysterious mines, each recorded experience proves that you will never get out of the water in a worse mood than when you got in. 


Do you like wild swimming? Have you ever passed by a lake or natural pool and felt the urge to take a dip? Do you have other ways to enjoy the outdoors? Let me know in the comment box below.


  1. I love wild swimming too - it's just I'm not so good with cold water. Although regular dips in the Thames are toughening me up. I am the sort of person who can't walk past a lake / sea / river without wishing I could get in.

    1. Yep, that's the feeling Peters is talking about! He carries his kit everywhere he goes in case he sees somewhere intriguing.