As everyone is very much aware, 2020 was an incredibly challenging year. As lockdown restrictions impacted, we were asked to stay local, leading to many of us get to know our community and local areas so much better. Walking and cycling became favourite pastimes for many people, giving a great boost to individuals physical and mental wellbeing.
However, wild swimming has also seen a surge in popularity, and this too has a positive effect on everyone who participates in this pursuit.
Dipping into the cold water is an amazing way to feel part of nature, whether it is a loch, a river, or the sea, we are part of our natural surroundings, and many have had an increased appreciation of the environment and how precious it is. The beautiful clear water around Fife and Scotland is ever more important as we engage more with the coast and enjoy our fabulous beaches, and therefore we should all help to keep our beaches and rivers clean and safe.
Meg, who took to the water in 2020, ‘When you first enter the water, you feel an instant elation at being part of nature. It is a fantastic way to de-stress and be present in the moment. Scientific studies have shown that many people who take part in wild swimming have lower stress levels and increased happiness.’
She continued, ‘The Swimming Community are wonderful, and they all look out for each other. They keep an eye on new and less experienced swimmers, passing on their knowledge of the best swimming spots and how to stay safe. It is also great to meet friends, new and old. Many people have recognised that wild swimming has improved their mental health and given them a real sense of peace and happiness and at one with nature.’
As an organisation FCCT is committed to ensuring that everyone can experience Fife’s great outdoors. We do this through careful management in a manner which respects the balance between people and nature. Fife’s coastline is an amazing environment to explore on land or beneath the waves, but this can impact on the wildlife which makes its home here.
It is important to be aware of the potential environmental impact swimmers can have on a sensitive ecosystem, by learning about the habitat you are swimming in, it is possible to leave no trace and keep those habitats safe for wildlife and other users too.
Ranger Deirdre Munro explains how to be environmentally aware, ‘In Fife we are lucky to have two species of seal, the Grey seal and its smaller cousin, the Harbour seal. These are wonderful to watch, and seals especially can attract a lot of attention when they haul out on rocks close to shore. Please bear in mind though that you should never approach seals, or indeed any wildlife, in a way which causes them to move away or bolt back into the water. To do so can cause serious stress and can affect their chances of survival. All creatures need peace to rest, moult, digest their food and care for their young. By watching from a safe distance, you can observe wildlife behaving naturally which, is much more enjoyable!’
For further information on wild swimming visit, https://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com/ and https://www.scottishswimming.com/compete/open-water.aspx