In praise of winter swimming: why it’s cool to take a dip on the wild side

As thousands steel themselves for Christmas and Boxing Day swims around the UK, we asked 10 dedicated outdoor swimmers where they take the plunge in winter – and why

This festive season, 10,000 people will brave biting cold water at one of the 100 or so Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day swims around the UK. For some, it will be their one outdoor dip of the year, but many who take to the water in mid-winter are dedicated cold-water swimmers, who plunge into the sea, rivers, lakes and lidos across the country all year round. You’d think it would take a certain type to step into water that’s below 10C, but outdoor swimming is one of the most diverse and democratic activities in the UK. It attracts people from all backgrounds and of all ages. A few do it for the physical challenge, but most are drawn to it for other reasons – a connection with nature, camaraderie and most of all “to feel alive”. We asked 10 swimmers from across the UK where they swim – and why.

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