Brothers go wild and make a splash May 31 2017
When the writer Roger Deakin first took the plunge and set out to explore the British Isles by submerging himself in its winding waterways, lakes and rivers, his resulting book, 'Waterlog - a swimmer's journey through Britain', inspired countless others to follow (bathing) suit.
Growing up in the rugged landscape of Yorkshire, the Hudson brothers, Jack, Calum and Robbie, were determined to jump in Deakin's wake. Today, the adventurous trio continues to make a real splash about the free-spirited benefits of heading for a swim in natural waters, and Calum tells us more.
When did you start wild swimming?
From as early as I can remember. Mum said I used to search out puddles from a young age for a splash around and aged 5-6 was swimming in the sea of Devon and the Western Isles of Scotland. All through our teens we swam in the lakes of the Lake District and a river flowed past the bottom of our garden. It's only in the last few years that we've called it wild swimming, really.
Is it something you’ve always done together?
Yes all three of us have always swam together, on family holidays as kids messing around, and the River Eden was our playground for the majority of our childhood.
How did you become the wild swimming brothers?
Well we've always for our sins been brothers ;) and our mum's maiden name is Wild. Our Grandma Wild was a huge influence on all three of us growing up, and her cottage in the Highlands was where we learnt to love the natural world and the wild left in the world. It fits nicely with the modern term for swimming outdoors, but the name is really a homage to the Wild women who raised us.
What are the benefits of wild swimming with others, rather than alone?
Wild swimming is way more fun and also safer with your friends. Like any experience, sharing it greatly increases your personal enjoyment and some of my favourite stories are from swims - from shooting down the River Dart in Devon to spotting kingfishers on the River Eden. It's also an amazing experience to give someone whose never done it before, seeing them liberated from urban confines and truly enjoying themselves. All children love swimming in the sea or lakes and I believe it is a joy we lose rather than need to cultivate.
How often do you get out wild swimming?
I swim three times a week in my favourite outdoor pool Brockwell Lido in London and once a week out to Hampstead Ponds, the Serpentine or a spot along the Thames.
What’s the unique appeal of wild swimming as opposed to heading to the local swimming pool?
Chlorine, chlorine and chlorine, haha! No lines, no lanes, no repetitive swim and turn, no signposts, no rules, no nothing, just you and the natural world.
Do you think it’s growing in popularity?
Yes, massively. The Outdoor Swimming Society has over 22,000 members now, and the number of outdoor swimming events across the UK is growing month on month. You only have to walk into your local bookshop to see that wild swimming now has a section all of its own.
How does wild swimming help you reconnect with the natural world? What sights have you spotted?
It throws you slap bang into the middle of Mother Nature! I've seen speckled rays and reefs sharks in Belize, caiman in Venezuela, sea eagles and lion's mane jellyfish in Norway, and kingfishers on the River Eden. Nothing beats these magical encounters with wild animals and it's not just the fauna, you can find untouched pristine river bends, hidden coves and beaches, and discover the natural world on its own terms rather than through a lens or window.
What is its unique appeal compared to other outdoor pursuits, like sailing, cycling, etc?
It is unique because you are not reliant on a machine or any kit, and you're completely immersed within your environment. Rather than running, cycling or sailing over the water, you swim through it. I believe this immersion brings you closer to the taste, touch, smell and sense of the water and the wildlife. There is nothing more immersive than wild swimming.
What have been your most memorable moments?
I'd have to say our swim across the Moskstraumen Maelstrom in Norway, deep within the Arctic Circle in 9 degree water, lion's mane jellyfish, sea eagles and whirlpools - just check out the video
How do you feel after completing a wild swim?
I always feel inherently good deep inside: my troubles have been washed away and my energy is renewed. The cold water does wonders for the mind and body and I couldn't do without it to be honest.
Tell us your top five places for wild swimming in the UK?
My little brother Jack worked on this list of our top five places to swim in the UK
What are the main challenges, both physically and psychologically?
Acclimatisation to the cold is one of the biggest things that puts people off; my advice is to take it easy, gradually build up resistance and don't swim out of season or depth.
Psychologically, there is deep water fear and apex predator fear. We had to cope with both during our Moskstraumen swim as we were attempting to complete the longest distance ever swim in the Arctic Circle. Over 600 orcas call the Lofoten Islands their home, so, essentially, it's complete and utter trust in yourself and your team that gets you through.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about dipping into wild swimming?