Recently there's been a spell of articles and books about "wild swimming," which must be a way to brand one of the oldest outdoor pursuits in human history, that is, plain old swimming.
As a throwback who grew up wild swimming when it was just called swimming, and as a designer of ponds that are often used for "wild" swimming, I was pleased to find that outdoor swimming had become a Thing, and more people will be discovering the pleasures of wild swimming, off putting as the phrase may be, suggesting an elite fashion.
Nevertheless, wild or plain, many folks with ponds or pond plans expect summer swimming to be part of their pond adventures, for them and their kids and grandkids. That might include building a beach, dock, pier, stone steps into the pond, diving stone, rope swing, maybe a zip line. Lots of potential for wild swimming for sure.
Swimming gets even wilder when you include cold weather in the mix. When I moved to Vermont I met a lot of folks who made a ritual of the first spring swim, skinny dipping in the earliest circle of open water, bordered by melting ice. It seemed to hurry up spring in our short warm season climate, and was often done with great amounts of whooping and hollering. Cold sensitives are known to wear wet or dry suits to temper the chill, and for some folks in extra cold ponds rubber suits can be worn year round.
One of my favorite variations on cold water pond swimming is straight out of a steaming hot sauna into the pond. This can be a challenge if the ice is two feet thick, but there are ways to create open water in winter. Diffuser aeration can open a hole in the ice. A neighbor created a digger pond in his stream and built a sauna close by. The waterfall over the pond dam keeps the water ice free, perfect for a running dive out of the steaming sauna (see photo above).
Some of the ponds in my neck of the woods are dug in thick gray clay because the clay is so good at holding water naturally. A side benefit of a clay-lined pond is the chance you get to smear on the clay for a homegrown mud bath. I hear there are folks who pay thousands at spas for similar treatments.
Of course, all of the above is best done skinny dipping style for the true wild
swimming sensation. After all who takes a bath in a bathing suit?
Further Reading and Listening
The Swimming Song The Avett Brothers,
(Loudon Wainwright III cover)
Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal by Al Alvarez, Review (The Guardian)
Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal by Al Alvarez (Amazon Books)
Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui (Amazon Books)
'Wild Swimming'? We Used to Just Call It Swimming, The Guardian
Walden, by Henry David Thoreau (Amazon Books)
Topics vary from month to month and provide great information when researching where you want to build a pond, or how to keep it clean. Other areas of interest are pond use for more than swimming, and how to keep fish happy in your pond.