The Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) is run by a small family of people who give their time and talents to the swimming community.
Want to join us? Please see the volunteering page, whether you take a year round role, author a feature, or help out as an event volunteer. Autumn is a key turnover time for the core team, with people either recommitting for another year or stepping back, and OSS Swim Champs are recruited each February.
Kate Rew founded The Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) in 2006 and has been delighted to see it grow into the movement that it is today. At the start of 2020 the OSS had over 100,000 members across its channels: the free newsletter elsewhere, OSS Instagram, and a thriving Facebook community. It has taken tens of thousands of swimmers on beautiful long distance swims since it’s inception. Kate is now the Creative Director for the Fundraising arm of The OSS, and runs the society from her little garden office.
Kate grew up swimming in a river in Devon, swam all over the country for her book Wild Swim, and now lives with her husband and children in Somerset. In 2016 she received an award from the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) for her contributions to recreational swimming.
To talk to Kate’s agent please call Patrick Walsh at PEW Literary.
Follow Kate on Instagram @kate_rew
Follow the OSS @theoutdoorswimmingsociety
He swam around the British Isles – and now he’s joined the OSS Team as an ambassador! Ross Edgley embodies the best of the outdoor swimming community: a maverick, with humour, honesty, integrity, grit, and a love of adventure and joy.
We are delighted to have him on board helping us change more hearts and minds with him.
Follow Ross on @rossedgley
Rob is the author of Mountains of the Mind and The Wild Places, and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where outdoor swimming has allegedly been going on since 1692. He is a mountain climber whose ideal mountain day ends with a plunge in a river, loch or the sea.
He’s been winter swimming in Beijing’s imperial lakes, in the Himalayas, and once went green after diving into a Devon lake on New Year’s Day. He was a good friend and swimming companion of the late Roger Deakin, author of the swimming classic ‘Waterlog’.
Follow Rob on @robgmacfarlane
Alastair Humphreys is a British Adventurer, Author and Blogger who joined the OSS as a patron in 2018. Alastair spent over four years cycling round the world, a journey of 46,000 miles through 60 countries and five continents.
More recently Alastair has walked across southern India, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, run six marathons through the Sahara desert, completed a crossing of Iceland, busked through Spain and participated in an expedition in the Arctic, close to the magnetic North Pole. He has trekked 1000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert and 120 miles round the M25 – one of his pioneering microadventures. And he swims on them all – “including in the Empty Quarter when we swam in a puddle after a sudden storm!”
Alastair was named as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year in 2012. He loves wild swimming and believes it has an important contribution to make to people’s fun, mental and physical health, love and protection of the landscape, and sense of adventure. He sees the role of the OSS is to raise the profile of swimming outdoors in order to help care for wild places and permit legal access to these places. His ambition as a patron of the OSS is to encourage more people to leap into a river for the very first time.
Beth’s first love is sea swimming, based on her childhood along the North East coast of Scotland and an adulthood of spontaneously stripping and dipping whenever the opportunity presented itself. After swimming through her PhD – mainly in chlorine – she decided to be less spontaneous about it. So far that has meant learning not to swim barefoot in sub-zero lochs and finding out which inland swimming spots are reachable by public transport. In short, she now always packs her dookers.
Beth joined the OSS team in 2018 to develop, commission and edit content for its website, drawing on 16 years of her former career in features journalism (one of the highlights of which was swimming around Gourock outdoor pool with dictaphone aloft, interviewing its stalwarts). She is particularly interested in hearing and telling stories about the swimming community in the UK and beyond.
If you have a story, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Calum is an obsessive outdoor swimmer, swimming year round in skins – sometimes dipping, sometimes longer distance. ‘The lure of new water is what drives me. I can never settle at having a “regular” swim spot, and living in the Highlands of Scotland, I am spoilt for choice. Hunting out lochs in the hills, or river pools, hidden from roads and crowds: this makes me feel alive; swimming allows me to relax, think and fires my creativity.”
Calum has been a huge contributor to the outdoor swimming community in recent years, with his photography, filming and swimming all combining in some viral films. We were delighted to have him join the team in 2017 as an ambassador. “In 2018 I’ll be sharing more films, photos, swim discoveries and stories with the OSS, and plotting more swims on the map. The more people who are encouraged to dip a toe, or dive into the world of outdoor swimming, the better!”
“People often ask me why I swim in so many places, and how it started. I’m never quite sure but I can trace a jump in my swimming frequency to a solo crossing of the River Derwent in Hobart, Tasmania in 2009. After talking to my father, who it turns out was a young bushwalker, I realise he used to regularly “bag” lakes and rivers in Tasmania with friends – so perhaps the obsession is in the genes!”
Follow Calum’s photography (and enjoy his humour) on Instagram: @caldamac, his blog goneoffswimming.com, and in viral videos on BBC The Social on wild swimming, and TV series for the Gaelic channel BBC ALBA – Dhan Uisge (Into the Water).
Kari, a Devon sculptor and swimmer, is the OSS muse. Where Kari dreams, the rest of us follow – she has worked with Kate on many things that have become mainstays of the OSS movement, such as Breastrokes (our inland charity swims held in 2006 and 2007), the Dart10k, the Swoosh and the Hurly Burly.
Kari is an active swimmer in Devon, where she lives, and is constantly investigating and introducing people to new stretches of the coast and the Dart. She teaches swimming in Devon and London, specialising in a very gentle kind of instruction and effortless swimming that gets you thinking of your relation to the water, helps overcome deep water fears, and has everyone under her tuition doing butterfly in a light, grunt-free way.
To see her sculpture and work with fish skin: www.karifurre.co.uk.
Oliver was an early convert to the way of the Outdoor Swimming Society and has been up-hill and down-dale on swims – as well as stoking the hot tub, mulling the wine and making the chai – ever since.
Never short of a good idea, and not work-shy, Oli moderates the OSS Facebook group and page and is a regular face at OSS Events. He swam the Dart10k 10 mile course in 2015 and did a channel relay in 2016. Oli looks after the OSS Facebook group, keeping it friendly and ad-free.
Dubbed “the Stig of swimming” by the Wild Swimming Brothers, we don’t know ourselves quite who Swimstaman is. Some say he was raised by otters. Others that he has an irrational fear of swans. All we can say for sure is that Swimstaman brings creativity, adventure and fresh water tales from his Alpine hideout in Switzerland.
We are happy to welcome @swimstaman to the team as Special Envoy in 2018, during which he plans to write for us on (among other things) swimming with the Special Forces and crossing the Dardanelles.
In the shadowy past we hear he has been a visionary design award winner, a former BBC Worldwide journalist, a Senior Lecturer (at only 26) and the ‘Best swimmer in the school’. He swam for Lancashire (once!), which is once more than the rest of us. He now lives in Switzerland doing stig-like things we can’t know about, with nine working fingers. We have no expectation of unmasking his true identity.
Follow him on instagram: @swimstaman
Have a question about cold water or the effect of swimming on your body? Pose it to the OSS Expert Adviser, Dr Mark Harper.
Dr Mark Harper is a consultant anaesthetist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals who, accidentally and via quite unrelated routes, has developed an interest in the negative effects of getting cold during surgical operations and the positive effects of cold water swimming. He therefore spends much of his professional life researching ways to keep patients warm and his personal life enjoying swimming in a cold sea.
Mark answers swimmers’ queries on cold water via email. Send your questions to Mark here.
Nathan is a lawyer and his firm Berwin Leighton Paisner and has been providing legal advice to the Outdoor Swimming Society on a pro bono basis since 2008. Their advice to the OSS covers many issues, including access rights for swimmers, intellectual property and legal liability issues.
Swimming outdoors is potentially a risky business and so we are profoundly thankful to BLP for providing the OSS with a framework that allows us to continue to do so with passion and common sense.
It was as a result of Nathan’s loyal support that we were able to operate free ‘social swims’ under the terms of the Swim Responsibility Statement in the early days of Facebook – an operation in personal responsibility and freedom which led to the establishment of Facebook wild swimming groups across the land. Nathan also enables us to make a deposition to the Welsh Assembly on Inland Access, and countless other smaller victories along the way.
Whenever he can escape his desk, Nathan heads for the water. His favourite swimming holes are London Fields Lido and St Ives bay in Cornwall. He is always on the lookout for new and fun swimming challenges and has particularly enjoyed swimming the Solent and Hellespont.
Robert became interested in trying to increase outdoor swimming facilities in England and Wales after experiencing the plentiful swimming lakes and reservoirs in countries such as Germany, France and Switzerland.
He and Chris Dalton set up the OSS Inland Access Group in 2012 in order to help members work together, discuss and share advice to increase access to inland water for swimming. It is managed via a Facebook Group, which welcomes new members and includes helpful guides and information to help with increasing access.
The group has had several high profile successes opening up new bathing areas such as Rutland Water Bathing Beach and Swan Pool near Birmingham, and is making good progress on similar projects with members across England and Wales.
Chris broke free from the confines of the swimming pool on a beautiful June evening in 2010 when he went on an OSS Full Moon swim in the Nene. Since then he has been more often spotted splashing his way down the Thames than up and down a pool. He is currently working with the Canal and River Trust in an attempt to secure greater access to their waterways.
Imogen likes swimming in rivers. She first did it as a child, but then rediscovered her passion for it in 2012, after reading Roger Deakin’s Waterlog. She set about revisiting places where Roger Deakin had swum, visiting places others swim and finding her own swimming spots for dips or slightly longer swims (these days all through the year).
In discovering outdoor swimming Imogen very soon realised that it is surrounded with issues about access to inland waters and – connected issues – how important it is for better understanding of swimmers by others, especially the authorities, and for swimmers to understand how to swim safely. Without more places to swim, people have fewer opportunities to learn how to do so safely.
So Imogen has now become involved in campaigns and discussions about access through her work as part of the Inland Access Group.
Who tethers the event shelters when the storms come in? Who makes illuminated event signs at the Swoosh and 10ft-high Dart10k signs to welcome the event swimmers in? Who digs the press RIB out of the mud and cockles with his bare hands when someone stayed in the pub a bit too long? Tim does.
The man behind every fixed urn and mended flag pole at events has been working hard behind the scenes since the first Dart10k, and also spends a lot of time travelling the country with Kate and their two young boys in search of great swims.
Not a natural distance swimmer (has a body made to sink) he is however up for any adventure, has always got into water wherever he finds it, and always (always) has all the kit.
Sara is an all-year skins swimmer in lakes, tarns and river pools, mostly in the Lake District, but does stray further afield to the Dorset coast, France, Scotland, Wales and Greece. She records the landscapes she swims in and the people she swims with through written and photographic stories. Marrying the two childhood dreams was the inspiration she needed to overcome a personal physical challenge.
She is passionate about encouraging people to swim outdoors as a way of dealing with a mental, emotional or physical challenge. Sara loves to watch how the water changes people’s facial expression from a frown to a grin. ‘You leave grumpiness and stresses behind in the water’, she believes. ‘Take one swim at a time’.
Sara is a new member to the OSS team and is diligently working her way through content making sure typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are no more. She will also be writing more articles for the Survive section under the expert guidance of Mark Harper.
Lexi joined the OSS team in autumn 2018, contributing one book review a month to the site. Publishers and writers wishing to have their books reviewed, please contact Lexi on email@example.com.
Lexi has swum always, spending her childhood in the sea, rivers, dams and swimming pools around South Africa. She is now learning to swim in cold water and aims to learn how to swim through winter. Her current favourite wild spot is along the River Wye in Derbyshire but a trip to Hathersage Lido is always loved too.
She writes at www.lexislettuces.blog
Owen is a swimming access campaigner, living and swimming in the middle of what was once known as “Sheffield Lakeland”, an area dominated by large majestic functioning reservoir lakes.
Along with many others in the wider Yorkshire area and beyond, Owen is working to bring swimmers together, to collectively challenge social stigmas and the widespread prohibition of free outdoor swimming in inland waters.
Follow Owen on instagram: @owainhaeman
Ali joined the OSS in March 2019 as our new Wild Swim Group Coordinator.
Her role includes creating resources and an online network for community swimming groups. Ali is the first port of call for group leaders and new groups seeking advice from the OSS. She also maintains our website’s Wild Swim Group list. Ali set up Emsworth Sea Swimmers last year and has belonged to two other south coast groups so she has first hand experience of the difference groups make in the local community and the challenges they face too.
You can contact Ali on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ali’s career is in communications. She spent nine years working for the House of Lords and 15 years working in the charity and education sectors. She grew up in Portsmouth, where her passion for swimming and travelling began. She has backpacked through 61 countries (so far) and has swam off every continent. She is a keen scuba diver and a marine survey volunteer for ORCA.
Karen found outdoor swimming via triathlon in 2016. She discovered that she was most definitely not a triathlete – but fell in LOVE with swimming in Lakes and Lidos. Every spare moment she has is spent at her local lido, if not swimming chatting and eating cake. She swam the Dart 10k in 2018, is swimming Coniston in 2019 and has a Windermere one way in her sights for 2020. She finds tidal pools places of wonder and magic.
Karen is really excited to be the Swim Champs Coordinator for The OSS, helping the Champs to beam the swim Love all over the world!
Please email email@example.com to get in touch with Karen.
Gillian has loved swimming since she was a baby. She has been passionate about outdoor swimming in particular for many years, which in turn ignited her enthusiasm for triathlon. The swimming element is still easily her favourite of the three disciplines.
Gillian’s swimming regime at her local Lido is part and parcel of her daily life. Her favourite outdoor location is in the wild and beautiful waters of East Lothian in her native Scotland. On land, Gillian is Managing Director of Fuel PR, an award-winning boutique communications agency based in South-West London.
She attributes her boundless energy to the joy and relaxation she finds from swimming in all weathers, combined with her natural competitive edge. Gillian thrives on setting personal challenges, so she competes in local and national events when she can find time in her busy diary.
Please contact Gilly on firstname.lastname@example.org
Growing up in the north east of England Justine learnt to swim in various Victorian baths with the occasional dip in the bracing North Sea. As an adult, she rekindled her passion for outdoor swimming in London’s lidos and ponds and has become evangelical about the benefits of cold water swimming.
Justine is responsible for the news stories on the OSS website and newsletter. Get in touch with your events, films, lido updates or stories of amazing swimming achievements at email@example.com
Follow Justine on instagram: @justinefharvey
Aptly born under the sign of the fish, Simon spent an inordinate amount of his childhood spellbound by TV shows The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and The Man From Atlantis whilst poring over giant books like The Fascinating World of Oceans and Islands and dreamed of a life spent underwater. Competitive swimming gave way to scuba diving in his 20’s and he now indulges himself with both diving and OW distance swimming.
He has swum in all the various OSS events and intends to do so for as long as possible.
He can be found throughout the year at Parliament Hill Lido, and when open, various bodies of open water around London.
He is happiest when immersed.
Interested in joining the OSS Team? Contact Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgan became a member of The OSS in 2014 as a long distance swimmer, having completed Windermere One Way and an Ironman. She then became a volunteer for The OSS in 2015, coordinating the Castle to Castle swim on the River Teifi, fitting swimming in her now home, West Wales, around completing a PhD in Himalayan Glaciology and running expeditions for Brathay Exploration Group.
In 2018 Morgan took on the role of Executive Assistant to The OSS, with a brief foray into event management for the Hurly Burly 2018. After a short stint back in academia, Morgan became Event Manager in Summer 2019. She is now the Operations Manager for The OSS, working from her home office in West Wales, overseeing the day-to-day running of events, merchandise and anything else that needs doing. Morgan makes up one half of the permanent event staff, alongside Jon, for The OSS.
Morgan still likes to get in the water whenever she can, and has dreams of swimming the length of Loch Lomond. Her all time favourite swim is the Hurly Burly, and in the winter of 2019/2020 she will be aiming to join Zeno’s Swim Club as she swims through winter for the first time.
Jon first became aware of the OSS in 2016 when he volunteered at that year’s Dart 10k. That event kick started a love of outdoor swimming and has led to him dunking himself in cold water everywhere from the south coast of England to the north west tip of Scotland.
He has been involved with the OSS ever since: assisting at events, swimming the Swoosh and then stepping up to Headland Manager at the Swoosh before being asked to take on the role of Event Manager for the 2019 Dart 10k.
Jon is now one half of the permanent event staff for The OSS, managing and organising events from his home office in Devon three days a week.
Iain has worked as a weekend Site Manager at events for The OSS for around five years, and is now an extremely important cog in the weekend event management team. You’ll find him at the start of the Swoosh, the end of the Dart and flitting between the beach and coaches at the Hurly Burly.
When Iain isn’t site managing at an OSS event, he is a freelance outdoor instructor. He can also be found swimming around the north of England, and always takes on the difficult but necessary task of testing the hot tubs at the Dart 10k.
Liz has worked as a weekend as a weekend Site Manager at events for The OSS since 2015, and is now a very important part of all OSS events. You’ll find Liz at the end of the Swoosh, start of the Dart 10k, and at various roles at the Hurly Burly.
Based in the North West Liz is a freelance events, marketing and outdoor professional, and since working with The OSS has taking on various roles within the team, from event assistant to site manager, and helped launch the first Hurly Burly in 2017.
Liz loves the outdoors, especially climbing mountains, canoeing and skiing, but puts herself in the a fair weather dipper category when it comes to outdoor swimming.
Anna has been part of the OSS since November 2012. She manages the day-to-day running of the online shop, answers merchandise enquiries and is responsible for getting all the orders sent out to you.
Anna also loves spending time at the coast and swimming in the sea.
You can contact Anna about shop merchandise via email@example.com
Leo co-founded the South West Seal Pups (also known as just ‘Pups’), a Bristol-based group of student and young adult outdoor swimmers.
He’s been an all-seasons swimmer for a number of years, and his love of winter swimming spread to friends at University, which lead to the creation of the Pups. The group has grown rapidly, and meets up to swim every weekend, as well as embarking on occasional ‘Microholidays’.
Growing up in London, Leo was a regular at the Bathing Ponds on Hampstead Heath. First swimming in ice in 2014, the experience of breaking his way through the ice whilst picking up large slabs was “addictive” and he has looked forward to the winter season every year since! The joy of wild swimming continued to University where, luckily, there is an abundance of terrific swim spots.
As a fourth year medical student, the academic demands are consistently high. However, when he’s not in lectures or on placement in the hospital, he enjoys running, photography and planning future swims.
Something that Leo particularly loves about swimming, particularly in the cold season, is the camaraderie and the madness; after stripping off and jumping in, he knows it’s going to be a great day.
Katie is an all year round daily open water sea swimmer, writer, motivational speaker and photographer based in the small coastal town of Penzance in Cornwall.
Katie swims in the sea every day at dawn before heading off to her day job as a health sciences lecturer and Deputy Head of Department at a Further Education College in Cornwall.
Katie is an advocate of regular cold-water swimming being a natural cure for long term stress and an effective tool for anxiety management. She also believes it offers a robust link to longevity – possessing the capacity to reduce age related incidences of depression, disengagement, immobility and degenerative disease.
Within her writing for National newspapers and UK magazines Katie shares the inspirational stories of her fellow wild swimmers through her outdoor portrait photography whilst also documenting her own wild swimming walks around Cornwall’s’ stunning coastline.
“Swimming in the sea every day can be transformative. When you challenge yourself to swim in a body of water with unpredictable tides and weather conditions (with the added likelihood of seeing seals, dolphins and jellyfish) the positive effect on the strength of the body and the mind can be life changing.”
In her award winning short film – ‘Tonic of the Sea’ – nominated for the BAFTA short film awards, Katie tells her story of how swimming all year round off the Cornish coast helped her to personally overcome stress related burnout and anxiety.
Katie has since finished her first self-help book also titled ‘Tonic of the Sea’ (currently sent to publishers) where she describes more details of her journey with mental health, crucial factors that supported her recovery and clear achievable suggestions to stay well in the future.
To follow Katie’s sea swimming around the Cornish coast or to hear more about her current projects and 2019 festival talks and appearances you can do so via her website www.tonicofthesea.co.uk or by following her on Twitter and Instagram @tonicofthesea.
Born in Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin, Niall’s early swimming education took place in the local sea water baths, progressing through the baby, kids and then the “big” pool. Nearby Sandycove Harbour was next before graduation as a fully fledged open water swimmer at the world renowned Forty Foot. As a young teenager it wasn’t unusual to do the half mile walk from home to the Forty Foot two or three times a day – in summer.
Niall now lives in Greystones, Co. Wicklow where – winter and summer – he swims daily at sunrise in The Cove. Joined by an assortment of fellow swimrisers, the swims are purely recreational and always in skins.
Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a 25 year old PhD researcher based in Edinburgh. I’ve been in water for as long as I can remember – my mum tells me I could swim before I could crawl! I swam competitively through school but fell out of love with it when I moved to university. I only took to open water last summer and was instantly hooked. It’s SO addictive.
When I’m not doing science, I spend my time drinking too much coffee, swimming, diving, paddle boarding or lifting heavy things that don’t need to be moved… And when I AM doing science I’m constantly dreaming about my next adventure! Other interests of mine include: puppies, ice cream, craft beer, rugby and any all things adrenaline-fuelled.
I played pretty much every sport I could growing up but there’s nothing that quite compares to the feeling of being immersed in water outdoors. I can’t recommend it enough.
Dean is a two-time cancer survivor and record-setting swimmer. He is the first person to swim the entire length of the Willamette River in Oregon (2014) and the River Shannon in Ireland (2017). He accomplished these feats of endurance to prove to fellow cancer patients that you don’t have to give up your dreams or your drive simply because you have received a diagnosis.
Dean has been a therapist for nearly 30 years and logged over fifty-thousand face-to-face sessions with clients. He specialises in helping clients recover from trauma, anxiety and health conditions like chronic pain and cancer. He is an author, a highly sought-after speaker, Blue Mind ambassador, and pioneering adventure environmentalist.
Having experienced radical emotional and physical healing during his river swims, Dean’s mission is to save our planet’s scenic waters. He hopes to accomplish this by getting as many swimmers out of chlorine tanks and into wild waterways as he possibly can. He believes when you experience firsthand the calm of a lake, the flow of a river or the power and pull of an ocean you can’t help but fall in love with it, and like Jacques Cousteau used to say, “You protect what you love.”
To follow Dean’s adventures or contact him for a speaking engagement:
Luke is an ultra-marathon swimmer from Melbourne Australia.
In 2012 his life was on a singular trajectory, he was caught in the cycle of addiction with no hope of recovery. Following an attempt on his own life began the journey of recovery. In recovery Luke has been blessed with the most meaningful relationship he has ever had, two beautiful boys and a strong desire to live life to its fullest. In open water swimming he found a way to energise his body and soul.
He took up swimming as a sport for the first time in 2016 to support his wife’s dream of swimming in and open water event. In open water swimming he found a way to heal himself through illustrating how much he has changed. He decided that he wanted to share the history to help other find recovery and now uses ultra-marathon swimming to show that people with addiction are not lost causes and have the capacity to change and live amazing life.
You follow his journey here @swim4recovery
In 2015 Lance decided to see if it was possible to swim between the towns of Wetherby and Boston Spa. It turned out it was, though not without some challenges along the way. Since then he’s been fascinated by swimming from point to point by river, exploring new routes and mapping the journeys in order to share them with others.
“In 2019 I’m looking to research, swim and write up as many new river journeys as possible. I’m interested in opening up new routes, ones that may not have been swam before, or at least ones that few people are aware of. I like the idea of swimmable river routes becoming normalised, just as famous mountain hikes are today. I’m also planning on shooting an autumnal wild swimming album in the Yorkshire Dales as the rivers and waterfalls there are incredible.”
Always in a bathing suit on the hunt for single digit temperatures in warm water climates, Amira fell back in love with swimming after a decade away from the pool only to discover the wonders that lie in open water swimming and the infinite pleasures of cold water.
Describing the maritime coast of the Mediterranean as ‘mother-nature’s museum’ she has found outdoor adventures to be the best remedy for her as a self-diagnosed sufferer of social media anxiety.
Aside from gearing up to non-competitively compete in 5 and 10km swims throughout the season, Amira will be attempting to swim the English Channel in 2020.
I’m completely obsessed and addicted to Scotland and showing it off, from it’s Lochs to it’s islands and everything in between.
I grew up in the Shetland Islands, which explains why I have such a love of the sea and islands. I spent my youth never more than 3 miles from the sea, playing on a beach (pebble, of course) or running around the many deserted crofts or up a hill.
But despite growing up on an island, I have (well had) a strange fear of the water, and even worse… I couldn’t swim!
Thankfully those fears are mostly behind me and now I can’t wait to encourage others to do the same.
I run an Instagram page and blog which shows my travels and adventures around Scotland, and what started off as hill walking has progressed to winter mountaineering, wild camping, outdoor swimming, cycling, hiking and paddle boarding. In short, doing as much as I can to be outdoors and enjoying this beautiful country.
I currently live in central Scotland near Glasgow. Not as near to the sea as I would like, but it is home for now.
I don’t claim to be, nor am I an expert swimmer, but I hope that I will inspire and encourage some of you to get out there and try something new, whether in Scotland or further afield. Even if it’s just dunking your face underwater!
Liz Ke calls herself a “photographer, triathlete and mountain lover”: as a triathlete, she can see much of the world through the power of her lens and legs, one of which she uses to hike through forests and balance on mountaintops, the other to fully appreciate the moment wherever she happens to be.
She developed her passion for outdoor and cold water swimming through her triathlon training and her mother’s love for all bodies and temperatures of water. Now her mantra is: the wilder the better.
“When I’m out there I feel so small – and it makes me realise that if I’m so small then maybe my problems are even smaller” – that’s what Liz prefers to tell people who ask her for the “Why”.
Polish swimming anthropologist, as he says about himself. Tomasz was born into a family of swimming coaches, so he started swimming earlier than walking. Now he divides his life between work in The Asia and Pacific Museum and being a swimming coach for disabled swimmers. Privately he trains three times per week. Searching of the essence of swimming brought him to open water. Now he devotes his time swimming with his underwater camera among others swimmers and capturing people and their passion for swimming, and historical pools. He is also interested in the history of swimming, practising his trudgen stroke and… trying to find his zen in swimming.
Carina Bruwer is a proudly South African marathon swimmer, professional musician and mother of three.
Her self-proclaimed addition to swimming and sunshine, combined with a healthy yearning for nature and solitude, has taken her to exciting corners of the world, with some of her most notable swims including the English Channel, Gibraltar Straits, False Bay, Bonifacio Straits, Messina Straits (Quadruple), Triple Country (France-Monaco-Italy) and many more.
For Carina, one of WOWSA’s Top Fifty Female Adventurous swimmers who has broken more than a couple of long distance records in her time, finding and feeding her soul in the open water, and in fact at her favourite seaside pool, the Sea Point Pavilion is what it’s all about. “The world isn’t always the easiest place to navigate, but I feel I can take on anything as long as I’ve my daily dose of swimming-induced endorphin-meditation!”. She also tries to make her big swims count by raising funds and awareness through her Swim For Hope platform, for Muzukidz, an organisation that offers the opportunity for children from South African townships to learn the violin.
Nature lover and sea obsessive, open sky swimming nurtures that part of me that needs to feel connected to the wilderness. Inspired by the ever changing beauty from the watery perspective and the rejuvenating feeling of cold water, I started taking pictures to share with others through my Instagram page, hopefully to inspire others to get outside and connect with nature through swimming. I believe it has so much to offer and if we can find that connection with nature that means something to us we will want to protect it.
I swim all year round in all weathers from fully naked to fully wet suited, mostly from my local spot in the south of England , but I’m always on the lookout for new places to explore. A quick skinny dip can make me just as happy as several hours challenging swimming. I love to plan swims to explore the landscape from the water. Last years favourite was a swim from the Hurst Castle Lighthouse(on the mainland) to the Needles lighthouse on the Isle of Wight.
Through my work as a fashion model I have published my photography and poetry, and love to share my passion with other artists through film and photography. I always travel with my swimsuit as I’m always looking for the opportunity of getting to know a new place, people and the wildlife from the water.
I’m looking forward to another year of connecting with people and sharing the wonderful experience of swimming outdoors and adding new swims to the Wild swim map.
Arthur is a year round swimmer, whose swimming adventures started as a recovery swim / Wim Hof homage / general goof in the Hampstead ponds.
He is a keen runner, having completed London, New York, Paris and Amsterdam marathons amongst others and several Half Marathons and 10km races.
Within the past 3 years he has built his front crawl from scratch and having completed the Serpentine 2-mile swim in 2018, will swam the Dart 10K this autumn.
Lindsey fell head over tail in love with wild swimming when she swam the length of the River Thames for an anti-plastic campaign during winter. Random people appeared behind rural reeds and asked if they could join her. That was her first introduction to the community and it really warmed up her soul. People messaged inviting her to join their swim spot all over the uk and she met those she’d been speaking to online at the UK cold Water Swimming Champs in Tooting Bec Lido. So, she devised a cycle tour where she could accept the swim invites and cycle to the inaugural Scottish Cold Water Swim Champs, sharing the stories of those she swam with.
Lindsey feels a bit like She-Ra once she’s been for a cold water dip- invincible!. So, she’s currently still dipping around Britain accepting any swim invites she receives. From swimming with seals in Shetland to dancing to a drum and a native Indian flute in the river Derwent, every dip has been and always is magically unique. What Lindsey likes best about it all is it makes her feel alive.
Even if you didn’t know Lynne, chances are that your swimming world has been influenced by her, that a ripple she set off has touched your shores. Lynne was a vibrant member of the swimming community and key contributor to the Outdoor Swimming Society over many years. She had a unique take on the world and a voice within swimming, which was much loved and is sorely missed. She died from a brain tumour on Saturday 13th August 2016, age 55.
A book of her blog ‘Wild Woman Swimming’ was published in September 2018, and is available in the OSS shop.
Lynne Roper’s love of water was cemented during her Devon childhood, and it never left her. She went from art college to the RAF, seeing duty in the first Gulf War and completed tours in Germany, the Falklands, Canada, the US and Cyprus.
In 1998 she completed a degree in film and media studies at Stirling University, undertook at PGCE at Wolverhampton University the following year, and taught in Stirling for a few years before returning to Devon and settling on Dartmoor.
Later she became a paramedic.
Lynne turned to wild swimming to regain her physical and emotional health after a double mastectomy. She immersed herself in rivers, the sea and the friendships formed through water. For her, wild swimming was never about how far or fast you swam, or how cold the water. It was always about the experience itself, and the connection with the environment. She fitted wild swimming around her shift patterns, saying that water washed away the stresses of the job.
She gave many people the confidence to start wild swimming; her infectious smile, her ability to listen and her calm patience never faltered. She readily shared her ability to read water, her knowledge and her judgement.
Lynne worked alongside Kate for a few years with the two of them providing all the content for the OSS website and newsletters, doing book reviews and stories and handling media queries. She went on to develop the ideas and content behind most of what is now the ‘Survive’ section of the OSS website. She also acted as the best press officer we have ever had, developing safety advice and liaising with the media to ensure the joy of wild swimming was not lost to stories of danger. She was not afraid to go on the Jeremy Vine Show (for example) or speak to the media after a tragic death – she knew it was important to communicate how to swim safely at these times, and her paramedic background made her confident to do this without upsetting the bereaved. All of this was a gift from her to the community for something she believed in.
Lynne was hugely enjoyed, admired and learnt from. She was a free-spirited, no-nonsense thinker who fought for what she thought was right. She was funny and ballsy and not afraid to scrap on Facebook. Her kind, infectious and full-colour personality made her a brilliant friend to many. She was direct, intelligent, opinion-rich and spirited. She hated bloody tow floats.
Lynne regularly arranged wild swims for local swimmers and visiting OSS members from further afield, she ran the warming tent at the Dart 10k and the Swoosh looking after chilly swimmers and she founded two local swimming groups (Devon & Cornwall Wild Swimmers, and later, Into The Fish Dimension).
Lynne wrote a blog, Wild Woman Swimming blog ( https://wildwomanswimming.wordpress.com/). She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 2016, which she named ‘Hunt’ and wrote passionately and painfully honest accounts about it in her blog Out Of My Brains. (https://outofmybrains.org/). Always an advocate of the NHS, when she learned she was terminally ill, she stepped up her efforts to highlight the impact of funding restraint on acute frontline health services and social care through this blog, and she was fearless in relating that directly to her own situation. Her writing was sensitive, frank, funny and clever. As was she.
She died peacefully with her mother Jenny at her side in the early hours of Saturday, 13th August 2016 after her battle with cancer fought with gumption and spirit only Lynne could have summoned. She was buried at Sharpham Natural Burial Grounds, surrounded by friends, family and her OSS friends. Her funeral wreath was taken to the Dart10k the next day and strapped around one of the swimmers’ photo frames, crowning the glory of finishers. Her influence was huge – when she passed away, many paid tributes to her who hadn’t ever had the chance to meet her.
Lynne’s biggest legacy, which will live on in the communities she has created and influenced, is the way she connected people together. Either through her love of the water, politics, her writing, her work and sense of adventure – she brought like-minded spirits together, “one of life’s troubadours” says friend and swimmer Gilly Robinson.
We feel lucky to have known her.
Everyone has their good days. Days when they are at their best; full of energy and confidence, open to the world around them, its people and possibilities. Days when kindness and enthusiasm aren’t hard and creativity comes naturally.
For most people these days come once in a while. Tiredness, stress, hassle and worry all chip away at that version of self. After all, it’s fucking hard work to be open, energetic and kind all the time, to take risks and encourage others, to laugh even when knackered, cold and wet.
After his death JJ’s long-term friend and business partner Bob Thomson from Storm ID wrote these words, and said ‘Of all the people I have been lucky enough to meet, Jonathan had the most good days. He had an incredible capacity to be at his best, regardless of any external or internal circumstance. Whip smart and charming, through sheer force of will JJ consistently won the battle to energise those around him rather than need energy from them, to look for the hard positive over the easy negative, to be the one saying “Why not?” rather than “Why?”. Without fail JJ would apply logic and intelligence to matters at hand while injecting his surroundings with humour, playfulness and warmth.”
This was the JJ that the team in the OSS – and the Devon wild swimming scene – came to know and love when he moved to Ashburton Devon in 2011.
JJ was an adventurous wild swimmer and challenge swimmer whose love for people and water was unsurpassed. He gave many gifts to all who were lucky enough to have met him and known him. One of them was to build wildswim.com with Kate Rew and his company Storm ID for our community of swimmers.
‘I had advertised for a volunteer map editor,’ says Kate, ‘for an online crowd sourced swim map that I had been touting around London for years to try and get funding to build. A man called JJ rang me and said “I won’t be your map editor, your map is crap, but I will build you a new one…”. I sent him my dream brief and it was that simple: a few months later, wildswim.com was born.’ This act typifies many of the attributes his friends and the wider community loved about JJ: generous, clever, open, bold, funny. It exemplifies his nature of exploration, discovery and sharing. And his competitiveness: other similar products came on to the market around and after wildswim.com was launched, but JJ absolutely relished the challenge: wildswim.com was going to be the best in the world.
JJ died suddenly, on 15th June 2013, age 41, while out swimming with a friend in Beesands, Devon. His swimming family were thrown into shock by the sudden death of a man they all loved. He and his swimming partner weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary, just training, ploughing up and down parallel to the shore, only 25 metres from the beach, when something happened and Jonathan lost consciousness, and later died. We still don’t know why.
We swim on with him in our hearts.