In recent years open water swimming has experienced a boom in popularity. Last year 4.1 million people took to the UK’s open waters; the Outdoor Swimming Society boasts over 70,000 members and from Land’s End to the Orkney Islands swimmers brave the UK’s varied waters all year round. Wild swimming is perhaps a natural response to evermore digital and urbanised lifestyles. And while our seas and watercourses have generally become less polluted in Britain, it also seems clear that the climate crisis is also part of the picture, even if unconsciously.
For many people, wild swimming has become a way of connecting our bodies with the here and now, and “plugging” into nature. Swimming outdoors has clear mental and physical health benefits, it also remains a proving ground imbued with personal, political, spiritual and social significance. Whether that be Lynne Cox’s historic 1987 swim in the Bering Strait to ease Cold War tensions or, more recently, Lewis Pugh’s swim below Antarctic ice to raise awareness around global heating, swimming continues to be symbolic, relevant and subversive.
Vicki Carter is a retired BBC World Service radio studio manager and swimming teacher; she has also earned one of the three most prestigious swimming crowns in open water, the first being the English Channel in 2019, she has plans to gather some more crowns.
Hunter Charlton is a videographer, journalist and Channel swimmer; he’s also aspiring to be the first person to swim over the Inner Sound, the deepest stretch of water in the UK.
Vicki and Hunter:
Although I am probably your only listener/subscriber in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, I just wanted to thank you for SwimOut. It’s such a wonderful, fun, and informative podcast!
Yours is the podcast for which I’ve been searching the last few years. I’m so happy you are on the air, and that I finally found you! I just can’t tell you how much I look forward to and enjoy each episode.
As an older open water swimmer who lives more than 1,000 miles from the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, listening to SwimOut makes me feel like I am in Dover!
Thank you again, and well done!