Jumping into a lake, pond or freezing ocean may not appeal to everyone, but for a growing number of adrenaline seekers and wellness enthusiasts, the activity – popularly known as “wild swim” – worth traveling.
At a Global Wellness Summit media event held in New York in late January, Spa Business Editor-in-Chief Jane Kitchen highlighted wild swimming as one of the top wellness trends in the world. ‘year. She cited an “absolute explosion of interest” in the practice, which usually involves bathing in a body of cold water outdoors.
Photo credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock.com
Wild swimming isn’t the only big trend that wellness experts and analysts have their eyes on this year.
“Things like open water swimming and winter dips in the ocean that used to be for really serious athletes, now we’re seeing grandmas doing it and a wide range of ages and abilities,” Kitchen said. to participants.
No longer seen as a niche hobby, wild swimming first started gaining traction in the UK, where it has become a national pastime in the age of the pandemic. Now the craze is quickly spreading to other countries, with proponents claiming that wild swimming may offer health benefits like endorphin release, boosting blood flow and relieving joint and muscle pain.
According to Sian Richardson, a UK-based wild swim enthusiast and founder of the Bluetits Chill Swimmers swimming community, wild swimming’s popularity has also been boosted by the social element of the sport, with clubs and groups dedicated to the activity proliferating in recent years.
“When the pandemic hit, people were desperate for human connection,” Richardson said. “And even when things started to reopen, recreation centers – like gymnasiums and swimming pools – did not. many had missed their lives.”
Last year, the Bluetits teamed up with a UK-based tour operator A different travel company to provide members with access to a multi-day wild swim vacation led by locally trained Bluetits swim coaches, with lifeguards on hand for added safety.
This year’s itineraries include trips to the Jurassic Coast and Cornish Coast of England as well as Iceland. (While Different Travel’s existing swim itineraries have been designed exclusively for Bluetits, the company can arrange bespoke tours and offers commissions to travel advisors.)
According to Richardson, demand for the vacation has been strong. “As soon as we launch them, they are sold out within a week.”
A wild plunge pool surrounded by saunas at the Bracken Hide Hotel in Scotland. Photo credit: Courtesy of Bracken Hide Hotel
Hotels and resorts around the world are also seeing the opportunity to harness wild swimming, with a number of properties incorporating the activity into their wellness program.
“In hospitality, we’re seeing innovative things happen as a result of resorts dipping their toes into it,” Spa Business’ Kitchen said.
In Sweden, the Hotel J on Nacka Strand suggests pairing a swim in the ocean from its pier with a session in the sauna, while upstate New York Mohonk Mountain House offers overnight guests access to a free therapy session at the Lakeside Immersion Spa. The 75-minute experience begins with a dip in nearby Mohonk Lake, followed by hot cider or tea, guided yoga stretches, and hot ginger inhalation therapy.
Mohonk Mountain House’s Lakeside Immersion Spa Therapy includes a dip in nearby Lake Mohonk. Photo credit: Mohonk Mountain House
In Scotland, a new luxury resort surrounded by nature, the Bracken Hide Hotel, will inaugurate a “wild pool” fed by natural spring water when it opens in March. Guests are also encouraged to sit in a surrounding sauna before taking a dip in the pool.
Bluetits’ Richardson sees a lot more leads for the burgeoning travel and hospitality segment related to wild swimming, citing growing numbers of memberships and growing interest in what she describes as swimming destinations “on the to-do list”.
Established in 2014, Richardson said the community exploded during the pandemic, growing from 20,000 members to more than 100,000 worldwide. The group has chapters that host meetups around the world, including offshoots in US markets like Colorado, New York, Washington, California, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
“There are all these destinations where people say, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to swim there,’ whether it’s Iceland, Copenhagen or Norway,” Richardson said. “And for people who live inland and aren’t near the sea, many of them are willing to go a very long way to swim.”