A Beginner’s Guide to River Swimming
Whilst Robie’s may be based on the Cornish coast, our products aren’t solely for seaside use. The towelling Original-Series and water and windproof Dry-Series compliment any swim, whether it be in salt water or fresh. That’s why we’ve decided to explore the realms of river swimming, where our inland friends find their cold water fix!
Cold water dipping, wild swimming, hydrotherapy. Whatever you call it, the effects are the same. A plunge into a cold pool lifts the mood, boosts endorphins, supports the immune system and wakes up your brain. Blue health, both mentally and physically, is recorded to have been practiced since the 1800s by Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale, both of whom were big advocates for cold water therapy. Nowadays the trend has reached the masses, with millions of people worldwide taking to their local seas, lakes and rivers to reap the benefits and feel better.
Whilst many coastal dwellers choose to dip in the sea pools and oceans, rivers aren’t just for our landlocked friends. Cornish born Bryony said, “I swim in the sea regularly, but during the winter storms, sometimes there is no where safe to dip." She explained where she goes instead:
"When this happens my sister and I head to a tributary of the River Camel, which is sheltered in the woodland that borders Wadebridge. Here the large trees protect us from the wind, and the water pools in safe areas where we can swim. There’s even a man-made platform so we can easily climb in and out. Plus, the dogs love swimming there, too.”
England’s network of rivers snakes throughout the country, allowing many people to access the benefits and fun of river swimming. With the potential of easy access, it’s important to consider the dangers, too. You can check the pollution risk via The Rivers Trust, and this article by The Guardian lists 10 of the top wild swimming spots throughout the UK.
According to wildswimming.co.uk there are some simple rules you need to follow before diving (metaphorically, not literally, it probably won’t be deep enough) into your local waterways...
- swim with friends, safety in numbers!
- watch our for boats on any navigable river. Wear a coloured swim hat or tow float to make yourself more noticeable
- keep any cuts or wounds covered with a waterproof plaster to avoid infection
- make sure you know how to get out, before you get in
- watch out for the current and stay within your depth
- swim in canals, urban rivers, stagnant lakes, flood water or reedy shallows
- make contact with blue-green algae, it can make you sick
- swim alone, just in case of an emergency
- dive or jump into the water until you’ve checked it’s deep enough
- get too cold! Make sure you’ve got your Robie on hand to help you warm up straight after your dip
- swim near big rocks, fast flowing water, weirs or waterfalls
Tempted to take the plunge? Make sure you pack your swimmers, your Robie and a flask of tea for afterwards, and always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Tag us in your river swimming adventures using the Instagram handle @robierobes so we can see what you’ve been up to!
Digital photography by Alexander Ward
Film photos by Mat Arney