The latest lockdown-easing measures now allow outdoor swimming pools to open and indoor swimming pools will reopen in England on Saturday 25 July, along with indoor gyms.
That said, some wild swimming sites have remained available throughout lockdown.
As previously reported by The Independent, wild swimming or open water swimming in lakes, rivers and other outdoor bodies of water, falls under the outdoor activity allowed during lockdown, according to Swim England, but lidos and outdoor pools were all closed throughout lockdown.
The national governing body for swimming is also advising that only competent and experienced open water swimmers participate in this form of exercise and that they adhere to social distancing guidelines while doing so.
“Even then, we ask that swimmers consider the risks to themselves and others while participating in this activity as the majority of locations will not have lifeguards and there is a real risk of cold water shock at this time of year,” says Swim England.
To find the best outdoor swimming facilities, read our guide to the best lidos and outdoor pool to visit in the UK here.
It doesn't have to be a solo activity either, there are also communities to join such as Rise Fierce, founded by cold-water swimmer, Sophie Hellyer. It’s a cold water collective encouraging women to get into outdoor swimming, and also hosts wild swim and yoga retreats.
She told The Independent while it's a fun activity, it's important to be know the necessary safety precautions to take. “You need to be aware of the additional dangers, never swim alone, it’s always more fun with a friend anyway," she says.
“If you’re new to swimming outdoors go somewhere with lifeguards like parliament hill lido, Hampstead Heath ponds or an RNLI guarded beach. Stay close to the entry and exit points, swim parallel to shore and not out to the horizon if you’re in the sea.”
Get ready for your first dip and make sure you have your kit bag prepared with all the essentials to streamline your swim with our guide to the essentials.
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Typically bikinis and swimsuits have been made for leisurely activities such as sunbathing.
With outdoor swimming, however, swimwear needs to be supportive, comfortable, stay in place and protect your modesty. “I like wearing a one-piece because then I don’t have to worry about it coming down with the waves,” says Hellyer.
In our guide to the best, we were most impressed with this Deakin and Blue high neck Hepburn swimsuit in mango (Mamoq, £110).
We especially liked how the swimsuits from the British swim brand, Deakin and Blue, are sold specifically for your cup size, tailoring the fit.
According to our reviewers, its pieces are incredibly comfy and supportive to swim or do beach sports in and made in east London from a recyled nylon and plastic fabric.
If you're swimming in cold water, even in summertime temperatures in the UK arn't so high that it'll feel tropical, wear a wetsuit to keep yourself warm and insulated.
Our reviewers said: "It also works well for stand-up paddling, especially if you want more flexibility in your legs, but also to have the warmth and protection of a wetsuit on top."
It's also made from sustainable eicoprene and can be worn in water temperatures of 22-26C.
Manufactured in Cornwall, its made from yulex pure, an eco-friendly natural rubber, that we found to be just as warm and comfortable as neoprene.
It minimised water entry, allowed for flexibility and the front entry zipper makes getting into on your own an easy process.
A good pair of goggles for outdoor swimming, particularly if you’re in open water, often have polarised lens to protect your eyes from UV rays and prevent from poor visibility and distracting sun glare.
They are easy to adjust with its button system and didn’t fog up either while we were doing lengths.
Depending on what you’re looking for, a swimming cap has multiple uses, from streamlining you to help you go faster or to protect your hair from chlorine.
Typically caps come in one-size, as they are made from stretchy silicone, however, if you have long hair with lots of volume, look for a specific extra large-cap to ensure it stays securely on your head.
Our favourite is the Speedo plain moulded silicone cap (The GAA Store, £5) that we found easy to get on and off, stayed in place even during fast swimming and didn’t snag hair or lose its shape with repeated use.
“The fabric felt thick and durable as if the hat would last a long time. And we liked the bright colour, which would provide extra visibility during summer sea swimming. It’s also available in a range of other colours,” said our reviewer.
Often forgotten about when swimming, earplugs can be a game-changer at making your time spent in the water better.
Their benefits include preventing water from entering your ears, reducing the chances of infection and helping tune out background noise.
They’re colour coded too, blue and red, to help you distinguish between left and right rather than squinting at tiny lettering.
The hollow centre on each cuts out background noise but allows users to still be able to hear important instructions and the flap of plastic at the bottom of each bud acts as a double barrier to the water. They even come with a reusable plastic carry case for safekeeping.
“If you plan on swimming any distance, I also recommend a tow float,” advises Hellyer, who adds, “I use the Billy eco15 drybag tow float (Puffin, £26.99) which is the only sustainable float I know of.”
It floats behind you, attached to your waist, as you swim but won’t interfere with your strokes and will reduce any dragging.
There’s also a waterproof compartment for you to put your keys or spare goggles if there’s no storage facility near the water and the bright colour will keep you as visible as possible. Don’t worry about sharp keys cutting into the material either, the biodegradable material is durable and puncture-resistant.
If you’re swimming somewhere that doesn’t have changing facilities like cubicles found in indoor swimming pools, then a changing robe is a must-have.
This dryrobe advance short sleeve (Dryrobe, from £75) means you can change anywhere while protecting your modesty and keeping you warm.
It’s deliberately large and loose-fitting, so you can close the fastening and change your clothes underneath while wearing it.
It’ll make a world of difference between sitting in a wet swimsuit and staying warm and dry after your swim.