This week we are joined by Alex Sehgal, Outdoor Swimming Society champion and micro adventurer. Alex tells us about her outdoor swimming journey, why she does it, and where her favourite spots are.
H2O, a transparent, tasteless, odourless, chemical substance that makes up 70% of the earth’s surface and our bodies. It’s the source of life for all living things and in its smallest to largest volumes the ratios always remain the same. Water is phenomenal.
I’ve been in water for as long as I can remember. My mother tells me that I could swim before I could walk, and I believe it! Growing up, wherever there was water I wanted to be in it. It turned out that I was a dab hand in the pool, so I swam competitively throughout school but fell out of love with it when I went to university. I think it was nearly 7 years before I donned a one-piece again.
I’m still very new to proper open water swimming; a fact that seems to surprise many people I meet. Last summer, I decided to complete a triathlon (don’t ask me why), so asked a friend to take me sea swimming with him. That was it, from that moment I was addicted!
I was recently introduced to the concept of “autotelism”. This is defined as “the belief that an entity or event has within itself its own meaning or purpose”. I’m not entirely sure I can categorically state a reason why I swim. I think the activity in and of itself provides a general sense of fulfilment without the need for a specific purpose or goal to work towards. I don't need a specific reason, so I've stopped searching for one.
Swimming provides a sense of freedom that I don’t get from other activities, and the whole process is nothing short of brilliant. There’s the nervous anticipation of getting into cold water, the shock of making contact with it and then the euphoria or sense of achievement afterwards. What happens in between is wonderful too. Whether it’s just a plunge, a short paddle or a long swim, the feeling of weightlessness and the “Oh my gosh that's cold!” are pretty much guaranteed (especially in Scotland!)
For me, no two swims are the same. I’ve been lucky enough to swim in some awesome places, some of which have required a day or two of travel and several modes of transport to reach. Personal favourites have been the Faerie Pools and Loch Coruisk on the Isle of Skye, and the pristine beaches on Harris. But even at my regular swim spots around Edinburgh, every swim will have its' own surprises and challenges. I get bored easily so not knowing what each swim has in store for me is exciting. It makes every swim a little adventure in itself.
To anyone who is considering wild swimming, I would say go for it! Grab a buddy, start with a puddle, and work your way up from there. The idea of getting into cold water may sound pretty horrible but I can guarantee you’ll be buzzing afterwards. You can thank me later.
See and read more about Alex on her Instagram page @theoutdooralex
If you're feeling inspired for more check out The Journal for more epic adventures and stories.