January can be dark, gloomy, and not very exciting. Going outdoors and launching yourself into the freezing cold water might just be the mood booster you need. We caught up with avid outdoor swimmer, and English Channel relay swimmer Rachel Harris to get her top tips for open water swimming.
Open water swimming is getting a lot of attention for being a health and mood booster. Could you tell us what it is that you love about it?
For me what I love about open water swimming, especially up here in Scotland is how calm and serene everything is especially when you get to go to a place like Loch Lomond (in Scotland) and be in a National Park. It really takes you out of your head, away from all your commitments with work or relationships and it's just so quiet and peaceful. Except the days when it's rainy and windy!
At first, I’m usually hesitant to get in the water because you think it’s crazy and cold but then you think it’s mind over matter and just take it one step at a time. Before you know it, you’re submerged in an ice pool. Once you get out of the water you feel a sense of achievement like you’ve done something great that day and I tend to stay in a good mood the rest of the day (once I’ve warmed up that is!).
Where's your favourite place to swim?
My favourite spot at the moment is Milarrochy Bay on Loch Lomond as it's like a beach which is fairly close to my house which is lovely. In the winter it's very still and then in the summer it turns into a lovely place where everyone goes and does barbecues and hangs out.
You swim a lot in the icy cold waters of Scotland, what kit wouldn't you be without?
My number one piece of kit for swimming in Scotland is obviously going to be my favourite woolly hat. The more colourful the better really, it’s almost a mood booster in itself! Also, I'm a big fan of having wetsuits socks and wetsuit gloves so even on the days where you can't be bothered to struggle into your wetsuit you’ve still got something to keep you warm in the water slightly longer. A lot of my friends also go for wetsuit hats too although that's a bit of a fashion statement if you ask me.
Favourite memory swimming?
My favourite memory is probably my channel relay especially the bit swimming in the dark as it was quite surreal to be in the middle of the ocean with just this one single boat that was lit up like a Christmas tree right next to me. You sort of know that there are all these things around you but you know you're just swimming your own swim and you're completely just within yourself which is pretty cool.