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Wild Swimming and Open Water Swimming – what’s the difference?

At The Falcon we have our own lake for open water swimming - we often get asked about the difference between 'wild' swimming and what we do.

At The Falcon we have a wonderful Capability Brown-designed lake for open water swimming but we often get asked by our guests about the difference between wild swimming and what we offer here. The terms ‘wild’ and ‘open water’ can be used interchangeably to refer to all swimming that takes place outdoors, as opposed to in an indoor pool, but there are some very important differences between the two.

Wild Swimming

Wild swimming is typically used to refer to swimming outside in wild or naturally occurring bodies of water such as the ocean, lakes, rivers and streams. Importantly, wild swimming, by the very nature of its name ‘wild’, is completely unsupervised. There are no warning signs, lifebelts, instructors or supervisors: you swim very much at your own risk. For many this adds to the excitement and enjoyment of the sport, but it does come with particular dangers not associated with open water swimming such as;

  • exposure to very cold water
  • dangerous currents
  • no safety measures
  • no back-up if you get into difficulties

Sadly, when the weather heats up here in the UK we often see tragic stories in the media of people who have unfortunately got themselves into difficulties swimming unsupervised outside while trying to cool down. Wild water, while beautiful and inviting, can also be deadly if you don’t know much about the area you are swimming in.

Cold Water Swimming

Cold water swimming on the other hand has all the benefits of swimming outside in nature but includes an extra raft of features that makes it safer for younger, less experienced or simply more safety-conscious swimmers.

Cold water swimming is always supervised and the location will have been rigorously checked for its safety and suitability for public swimming. If the water temperature on a particular day poses a danger to life then the open water swimming venue will be closed. If there are dangerous currents in that location it will not be operating as an open water swimming venue in the first place.

There are hundreds of open water swimming clubs up and down the UK offering the opportunity to try outdoor swimming in safe and beautiful locations. Here at The Falcon at Castle Ashby we’re delighted to offer supervised open water swimming sessions in our beautiful lake, seven days a week throughout the year and its one of the most popular activities in our wellbeing centre, both for guests at the hotel and for those visiting us for the day.

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