THE JOY OF OPEN WATER SWIMMING & THE MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS
This is the first instalment of a series dedicated to lifestyle, wellbeing and the simple things in life! Enjoy!
In my personal experience the thrill of open water swimming can go one of two ways.
The first? It is horrible. Waking up in the morning and having to get out of your warm bed. The water temperature sitting at 11 to 12 degrees. Being cold for an entire day. Brain freezes when you enter the water.
Sounds enticing doesn’t it?
With the bad comes the euphoric feeling of accomplishment coupled with the unifying experience as others in your group swim beside you in the water and huddle next to you with a coffee afterwards.
There is something to be said about overcoming the pain of leaving a warm bed to drag yourself to the bay or beach, don a wetsuit and dive in with the unknown of the life below at your fingertips. Your breath is taken away and it is invigorating.
You are both completely alone but completely together with the people who share your passion (or craziness).
Alone because you cannot talk whilst swimming (although some people can debate this) and there is nothing but the swell of the tide and the rhythmic pattern of your swimming stroke that carries you forward. There are no restrictions and you are suddenly reminded how insignificant trivial problems are when you are just a pin drop in the entire ocean.
So why put yourself through the trauma?
It is the addiction to the environment I have described and the feeling afterwards, but probably the entire reason is the lure of friends who you share a coffee and breakfast with afterwards.
The joy of open water swimming is compounded by the mental health benefits.
Being surrounded by like-minded people who are of all ages and experience creates an environment of growth as there is always someone to talk to about any problems. Having a group to swim with makes the cold mornings bearable as the alternate is a lack of motivation and staying home more often than not.
Not only are there incredible mental health benefits but there are physical ones too. We must move our bodies every day to stay healthy and swimming provides the least impact on your joints but has all the benefits of developing muscle and mobility to enable us to live our lives to the fullest.
I am not a particularly spiritual person but the peace and calmness that watching the sun rise and swimming through calm water brings is like nothing else. Moreover being at nature’s disposal is frightening but exhilarating and much like life, without swimming in the bad conditions you cannot appreciate the pristine mornings. So I challenge you to give it a try and feel the benefits for yourself.
Please remember that although you may not be into swimming, that there are so many different sports, clubs and communities available. Take a chance and join a group, you won’t regret it.
*** Before entering into the open-water swimming world it would be best to join a group that is to your abilities and to build up strength and fitness in a pool before taking on the bay or ocean. Also, please consult a doctor as to whether this kind of sport is within your physical capabilities. Safety first!