Essential safety tips for wild swimming

Stef Zisovska

Swimming outdoors just like any other sports activity can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with some risks. Before you head of for a wild swimming adventure you should inform yourself about all the possible obstacles, risks, water temperature, and terrain features. Also, you need to choose a swimming spot that’s suitable for your body strength and abilities. Never underestimate nature and don’t ignore DO NOT SWIM signs. Follow these simple safety tips and have the wild swimming adventure of a lifetime.

Foreign objects

Be careful of the cliffs
Be careful of the cliffs

Jumping from rope swings and cliffs is an extremely fun outdoor activity that everyone should try at least once. But what’s important to be aware of is that in any natural deep swimming pool there can be huge boulders hiding beneath the surface that may not be visible from above. Check first and then jump. Also, be aware of wood logs that the currents might bring in. Some pools are safe to jump in today but can be deadly tomorrow. Be careful!


If you like wild swimming, then you should know that you’re not necessarily going to be the only one there. Maybe you won’t find too many people around, but you’ll definitely have plenty of wildlife encounters. Animals and birds assemble around bodies of water, so get ready for some interesting wildlife surprises. As a wild swimmer, you will be close to different species, and not all of them are going to be pleasant. For that purpose, you need to be cautious to avoid possible injury.

When entering a swimming hole in the wilderness, wear long sleeves, rubber shoes, and pants. Your clothes will protect you from leeches, underwater creatures, sharp rocks, and poisonous plants. Inform yourself about the all the snake types in the area, as well as crocodiles and poisonous fish.

Wild water

Currents are the most dangerous part of your wild swimming adventure, and you should know how to behave when you feel them
Currents are the most dangerous part of your wild swimming adventure, and you should know how to behave when you feel them

Wild water can be unpredictable, and that’s what we love about it. Of course, you need to know your limits and never go swimming in any aquatic body just because you think it’s cool to do it. Currents are the most dangerous part of your wild swimming adventure, and you should know how to behave when you feel them.

Currents are a major concern in oceans, as well as in rivers and big creeks. Be careful when you go swimming in there and try not to go too far from the point where you entered the water. Lakes and swimming holes are not that prone to strong currents, but you should be careful after periods of heavy rainfall as they invariably increase the amount of debris and the strength of any flowing water.

Water quality

There are some obvious things to look out for when you choose a swimming spot. Avoid swimming in waters near industrial sites or downstream from agricultural areas because they can be contaminated by runoff. If you see stoneflies, caddisflies or mayflies near the water it means it’s not heavily polluted. Also, look to see if there are any turtles around as they are good indicators that the water is clean. If it’s good for them, it’s good for people too.

Have fun!

Always look before you leap!
Always look before you leap!

Wild swimming’s main purpose is to explore nature and have fun doing it. Don’t be over cautious about it and do what millions of people are doing every day all around the world. All you need to do is to be careful and know the area. After all, staying safe while enjoying yourself in nature is what matters the most. If you don’t feel quite ready to go wild swimming, then it’s probably better not to do it. But, think about it, be brave, and swim within your own limits. And of course, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy yourself. Good luck!

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival