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Dive into open water swimming

A fast-growing sport is seeing thousands of intrepid Brits diving into open water. Perhaps a little madcap, open water swimmers are becoming increasingly mainstream as they make a splash in the UK’s plentiful lakes, lochs and rivers, as well as the sea. Kate Rew, founder of the Outdoor Swimming Society, believes the UK is witnessing a new craze for open water swimming. Kate says: “There is a huge boom in outdoors swimming. It’s the latest back-to-nature trend with so many more people making the move from doing lengths in an indoor pool to the amazing freedom of swimming in open water.”

Open swimming events

To underline the rise of this pursuit, a number of mass participation open water swim events are also taking off, including the Great Swim series of events The chances are, too, that this year’s London Olympics, which features a number of open water swimming events, will boost the popularity of the sport. In 2008, during the Beijing Olympics, several British swimmers competed in nail-biting finishes during in the 10k swimming events.

Where to start with open water swimming

Whether you plan to take part in an event or simply swim outdoors for pleasure it is important to take sensible precautions. Kate Rew says: “Wild swimming can be dangerous but only if people act recklessly. You must be aware of the hazards and ensure you swim only in places that are suitable.”

Outdoors swim safety tips include:

* Always swim with somebody – either in the water or watching from the banks. * Never swim in reservoirs. * Beware of diving in when you do not know the water depth. * Wear a wetsuit unless you are very confident of staying warm. * Always swim within your capacity. Stay within your depth or at the edge of a loch if unsure. * Remember that the water surface temperature is warmer than below. * Always pay attention to hazards signs at waterways. * Learn from the experts. Join a swim coaching session or holiday such as with www.swimtrek.com. Or become a member of a local triathlon club *Also check out www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com   The Great Swims offer the ideal springboard for novice open water swimmers. The mile-long events take place in the safe environment of a lake or a loch.    
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