Why are so many people wild swimming in Kent? Up until more recently wild swimming in the UK been viewed as an unusual sport. Maybe it’s something to do with the coldness of our waters or our unfavourable seasonal weather? Although, here in the UK we are lucky to have an abundance of rivers, lakes and long stretches of unspoilt coastline, so we don’t have to go far to find a beautiful spot for wild swimming in Kent.
Wild swimming has its advantages, one of them being that the close connection with nature has been proved to help support mental health. Swimmers vow that some health conditions can be improved through swimming as well as feeling happier in themselves.
Please note: only swim where you feel is comfortable and safe for your ability. Tides and currents can be extremely strong, please understand the waters you are swimming in. Cold water immersion can be dangerous, if you are new to wild swimming it may be best to wait until warmer weather.
Beaches that are popular for wild swimming in Kent:
- Hythe Beach – Hythe
- Sandy Beach – Folkestone
- Minnis Bay – Birchington on Sea
- Joss Bay – Broadstairs
- Botany Bay – Broadstairs (high tide)
- St Margarets at Cliffe – St Margarets
- Dover Beach – Dover
- Wetsuit or skins? – The choice is up to you. A lot of outdoor swimmers choose to swim all year round ‘in skins’, wearing nothing but a swimsuit, trunks. Some swimmers opt to wear a rash vest or long sleeved swimsuit to add a thin extra layer. It is also worth considering how easy it is to get your swimwear on or off with cold hands, to avoid battling in the wind or rain after your swim.
- Neoprene gloves and socks – Wearing neoprene socks and gloves may help you to tolerate colder water by keeping your extremities protected. Footwear also helps you to navigate stones, pebbles and uneven ground. Make sure your gloves and boots fit snugly, but you are able to get them on and off easily with cold fingers.
- Swim hat – A silicone swim hat or two will help to keep the warm in and can be topped off with a bobble hat if you are not planning to put your face in the water. Bright coloured swim hats are advised for visibility. Silicone is recommended as it tends to be thicker and more durable than latex swim hats. A neoprene hood can add further warmth and help to reduce ice cream headache when putting your face in the water. Again, it is advisable to top it off with brightly coloured swim hat. Top tip: Don’t take your hat off until you are fully dry and dressed then quickly put on a bobble hat once your swim hat is removed.
- Tow float – A tow float is a brightly coloured inflated dry bag or buoy which the swimmer attaches to their waist. Tow floats are great for visibility and to warn other water users that there is a swimmer in the water.
- Changing robe – The most talked about item on an outdoor swimmer’s kit list! It is by no means essential, as technically a towel can do the same job but a good changing robe is spoken about as a game changer by winter swimmers. There are countless options of changing robes and changing towels for wild swimming available to suit everyone’s preferences and budget.
Check out this comprehensive Winter Kit review by the Outdoor Swimming Society. Detailed with links of where to purchase products or use as a starting point to start your own research.
A Word About Safety
Outdoor Swimming Society have listed 10 great tips on staying safe whilst at the beach this summer – learn, be aware and enjoy!
Kent Sea Swimmers – Facebook group for great advice and tips.
Outdoor Swimming Society – a fantastic website full of stories, advices, equipment reviews.
Swim England Open Water – website full of hints, tips, newsletters and much more.
Sea and Steam – sustainable products and equipment for those who love outdoor swimming.
Outdoor Swimmer – online magazine bursting full of useful information and events.
Other Things You Might Like
Deep Video – How can wild swimming improve and maintain your mental fitness. ‘DEEP’ follows three members of the Military community as they document why they use this form of exercise to improve mental health and optimise wellbeing.
Swim Wild Podcast By Karen Parry – Meeting members of the wild swimming tribe and hearing about why our sport is so addictive.
Explore Kent Blog – a piece written by us about the rise of wild swimming.