Posted on 24th October 2019

We were delighted to be a sponsor at this year’s Bantham Swoosh and Dart 10k events, serving up our hot soups at the finish line as the admirable swimmers came through.

But what’s so great about outdoor swimming and why should you consider getting involved? We caught up with The Outdoor Swimming Society to find out more.

What is outdoor swimming?

Outdoor swimming can be hard to define, and we don’t really want to pin it down. Perhaps the one shared element for all of us is that we swim under an open sky. Otherwise we are a very broad church, swimming in lakes, lochs and lidos, salt and fresh, cool and cold, and of course bloody cold! We enjoy the sport of swimming as well as the art, and there are dawdlers and racers, poets and pacemakers. Some wear skins, some wear just their skin. We don’t see a right or wrong way to swim, it is taking the plunge that matters.

What is The Outdoor Swimming Society and how did it begin?

The OSS aims to represent the interests of all the different kinds of outdoor swimmer by providing inspiration, connection and a community. We provide information about places to go outdoor swimming, and about events. We also provide advice about swimming safety and other aspects, and we help people to connect, and share projects, websites, advice, photos, videos, stories, experiences and ideas.

We are certainly not a governing body. We see ourselves more as a grapevine or a loose framework in which all the different outdoor swimming activity in the UK and across the globe can come together.

The OSS was founded in 2006 by director Kate Rew, with the senior guides – Oli Pitt and Kari Furre – involved since that time. Most of the work and richness of the society comes from individuals and agencies who donate time, creativity and expertise. At the beginning, outdoor waters were perceived by many as uninviting: dangerous, illegal, dirty and cold. Since then they have become increasingly something to be celebrated, photographed, written about and explored. At the start of 2019, the OSS had over 70,000 members across its channels: the free fortnightly newsletter, OSS Instagram, and a thriving Facebook community.

How can anyone new to outdoor swimming get started?

Join the outdoor swimming movement by following us on any of our channels:

We also have a range of articles on our website under the heading "Getting Started", for anyone new to outdoor swimming or just thinking about getting in the water. There you can also find a list of many of the wild swimming groups around the country, which can be found everywhere from Orkney to Eastbourne.