Boost your immune system by swimming in natural water 

2 May 2023


Swimming is good for you. Especially if you take a dip in fresh, natural water. Swimming in open water makes you feel one with nature and gives you a fresh energy boost. But how do you safely take a dip in natural water and where in the Netherlands can you find good outdoor swimming? 

What exactly is wild swimming? 

The name says it all. Wild swimming is swimming in natural waters found in the wild, such as lakes, ponds or the sea. It has grown considerably more popular in recent years. Indeed, when gyms and swimming pools were closed due to COVID-19, people were looking for a way to still keep moving. Wild swimming was one of the ways we could do that. 

It is important, however, to pay attention when and where you swim. Dutch natural water is often pretty cold. Especially in winter, natural water temperatures are quite low and even in spring the water often does not get above 12 degrees. This takes some getting used to at first, but has many health benefits. Swimming in cold natural water boosts your immune system, improves circulation and reduces feelings of stress. It’s what makes wild swimming so hot! 

Where can you swim in nature? 

In Scandinavian countries, swimming in cold natural water has been popular for centuries. But we are also hearing more and more about this hype in the Netherlands. In our own country, you can swim in natural waters in several places. The most beautiful spots include the Blauwe Meer in Drenthe, the Vinkeveense Plassen in Utrecht, the Veluwemeer or the Oosterplas in Bloemendaal. Swimming at one of these breathtaking spots will definitely have you feeling one with nature for a brief time. 

Take care when choosing your swimming spot, though. Don’t just take a dip in a river or canal near you. Indeed, swimming in locations with too much current, shipping or, for example, glass on the bottom is very dangerous. You can often find a list of possible wild swimming locations in the area on your municipality’s website.  

How do you start wild swimming? 

When you start wild swimming, the first thing you have to do is get used to the low temperature and discover how to stay warm. Except in high summer, Dutch swimming water is considerably chilly.  
You preferably start wild swimming when the water is about 12 degrees. If you want to swim in even colder water, you need to properly train for this, for example, with the help of a cold-water coach.  
If you do go wild swimming yourself, read up on recognised websites beforehand. We also have these handy tips:   

1. Don’t just dive into the cold water, build it up slowly. Walk into the water step by step or use steps or railings. Focus on your breathing and try to embrace the cold, so to speak. Also, wet your wrists first and see how you react to the cold water.  

 2. Don’t stay in the water for too long. The rule of thumb is 1 minute per degree of water temperature. So if the water is three degrees, you can swim for a maximum of three minutes. This has not been scientifically proven, however, so listen carefully to your body and get out of the water when you think it is necessary. It’s not about staying in the water as long as possible: a short dip is more than enough to get an energy boost.    

3. Bring warm clothes and a thermos of tea for after the swim if necessary. Also choose a place that is close to home so you can take a hot shower quickly. After all, it is important that you warm up quickly after your fresh dip. Be careful not to jump straight into a roaring hot shower, as that’s too big of a temperature difference.   

4. Never go wild swimming alone, but do so with a swimming buddy. This could be someone watching you from the shore or swimming with you – safer and also a lot more fun!   

Wild swimming is a simple way to boost your immune system. Stepping into the chilly water does take some doing, but the energy boost afterwards makes up for everything. Are you jumping in?  

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