Wild Swimming: Why you should give it a go

4 mins read

Wild swimming is a fantastic way to look after your mental and physical health.

Throwing yourself into icy cold water may not sound like the most appealing way to clear your head, but it is by far the most fun and effective. At the University of Stirling, there’s even a society all about it.

We’ve just waved goodbye to Mental Health Day again this year, which comes hand in hand with an online surge of yoga, meditation, and relaxation. Whilst these are wonderful ways to look after the little guy in your head, have you tried cold water immersion?

The wild swimming ‘trend’ has been lurking around the internet since appearing during the pandemic. And thank goodness it has! 

With winter closing in on us, the temperatures are lowering. The days are getting darker, the sun is a rarer sight, and honestly, we’re all getting a little bit sadder. What better way to shock your nervous system than plunging it into 11 degrees Celsius fresh water?

So, what are the mental benefits?

Coxburn Reservoir, Stirling
Wild swimming
University of Stirling
Mental Health
Coxburn Reservoir – photo by Heather Lamont, Wild Swimming Society

A 2018 study found that weekly open cold water swimming led to a raised and happier mood after each swim, and sustained a gradual reduction in depressive symptoms. Dopamine levels are boosted, and more endorphins are released. Cold water is a great way to manage stress, giving your body the opportunity to reset – you can read more about stress at university here. Wild swimming also gives you the opportunity to improve your physical health. It’s well known that getting moving always helps us to feel better!

For me, cold water swimming resets my brain, giving me the clarity to deal with life. The sense of achievement and superiority for the rest of the day really boosts a positive mindset! It’s also a wonderful way to meet new people and a fantastic opportunity to be surrounded by a strong, like-minded community. 

Here at the University of Stirling, the Wild Swimming Society is giving students the opportunity to try it out. With three swims held at Coxburn Reserviour every week and only a £5 joining fee, there’s really no excuse.  The club is keen to provide a safe sanctuary for students, encouraging peer support and plenty of socialisation opportunities. They are currently planning film nights, games nights, and weekend trips!

Wild Swimming Top Tips

  • Just do it! There are so many excuses not to, but you just have to get yourself out of that door.
  • Bring a hot drink for afterwards! It’ll warm up your insides.
  • Allow yourself to squeal and swear when you get in. Let out whatever is brewing in there – it is, after all, freezing. 
  • A big fluffy jumper goes a long way after a cold dip. 
  • You don’t have to properly swim – a wee dunk does the trick too!
  • It may be rocky underfoot – bring along some water-appropriate footwear (old trainers, wetsuit boots, etc.)
  • If you take some cake with you, nothing can go wrong.

In conclusion, why not?

Featured Image Credit: Alice Pollard

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