Open water swimming enthusiasts enjoy an early morning swim in Loch Lomond in Trossachs, Scotland.

Open water swimming enthusiasts enjoy an early morning swim in Loch Lomond

Open water swimming is becoming more popular and could have many health benefits such as increased happiness,better circulation, increased metabolism and boosted immune system. A new study from the UK Dementia Research Institute found that the blood of regular winter swimmers contains a "cold-shock" protein that wasn't found in that of people who did other cold-weather exercise on dry land

Take the plunge and stay safe

Advice for open water swimming

With more people than ever before braving the waters, there are clubs and smaller scale events to help you get started. Whether you’re a tentative beginner or an experienced open water swimmer, it’s essential that you’re well prepared before getting in the water:

Swim with at least one other person.

Always swim within your own capabilities and be aware of the effects of gradual chilling

Avoid busy boating/ferry areas where possible. Milarrochy Bay on East Loch Lomond is a popular site.

As you are low in the water, it can be difficult for other water users to spot you. So always wear a brightly coloured swim cap and, if possible, use a swim safety device – these are brightly coloured inflatable bags .

Where possible, use an escort canoe/kayak which can also display the alpha flag (international sign of diver in the water).

Check weather conditions before heading out, a large swell can quickly develop when wind directions change.

Blue green algae can be a problem during the warmer months. The relevant Local Authority should be the first port of call for advice if you spot any algal blooms, and SEPA can also be contacted.

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