Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the popularity of outdoor swimming in the UK. More and more people are realising the thrill that wild swimming can bring.
Why outdoor swimming is becoming more popular
Even with many of the UK’s lockdown restrictions now being lifted, indoor swimming pools have been forced to remain closed for the majority of the past year. So, the UK’s population have flocked to outdoor waters to get their swimming fix.
Yes, the water is a little cold and completely different to doing laps in an indoor pool, but once you’ve experienced the thrill of swimming outdoors, you can easily get hooked.
People begin to feel the physical benefits of swimming outdoors. They start to make friends with other open water swimmers and a sense of community builds.
What the research says
Research from Sport England showed that over 4.1 million people chose to swim in outdoor waters (lakes, rivers, and seas) between November 2017 and 2018. And the number of people swimming in open waters almost doubled between November 2016 and 2017. Crazy, right?
Other studies are showing that sea swimming is amazing for mental health and menopause. It was even suggested that GPs might start to prescribe cold water swimming as part of patient’s treatment plans.
Saving derelict lidos
When indoor swimming became popular in the 1930s, lidos were thriving. People loved the idea of going to a lido to improve their health and meet with their friends. Then after the Second World War, many were forced to close and never reopened. By the 1990s, many lidos were left derelict.
However, over the past 15 years, derelict lidos across the UK are being saved by grassroots campaigners. It started with a lido in Plymouth in 2005, which reopened for the first time in 13 years after a £3.4 million refurbishment. This has been followed by a number of other lidos reopening after years of being closed.
A number of campaigns have been launched to bring back lidos all over the UK, including Cleveland Pool in Bath, Saltdean Lido in Brighton, Grange-over-Sands Lido in Grange-over-Sands, Droitwich Spa Lido in Worcestershire, Portishead Open Air Pool in Bristol, and Brightlingsea Lido in Colchester.
If you’re keen to dive into the open waters after reading this article, make sure you stay safe. Prepare for the unpredictable currents, wear warm clothes, and take the right kit.