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Around Town

Taking the plunge

Cold weather be damned this fortnight, as Scotland’s braver souls dip their toes into the realms of latest craze, wild swimming, finds Anna Millar

Y es, yes, we know: the Bahamas it ain’t. And the idea of plunging, feet-first, into chilly waters, in sub-tropical Scotland, is none too tempting. But if anyone can convince you to give it a go, it’s probably Kate Rew, director of the Outdoor Swimming Society and author of Wild Swim.

Outdoor or wild swimming, explains Rew, is experiencing something of a renaissance, with a variety of events happening across the UK this year. This fortnight, Scotland takes the plunge with The Big Dunk on North Berwick beach. Marking the first official day of spring, swimmers are invited to join in on the past time of a growing number of followers, from TV star Robson Green to Team GB. For Rew, who has been swimming in lakes and rivers since she was five, the resurgence has been a long time coming, and since 2006 she has been working to change people’s perceptions, and get them outdoors, both for the health, social and lifestyle benefits.

‘I think the action of stripping off your clothes and just jumping in is pretty liberating,’ explains Rew. ‘People love it because it’s a real shared, unmanufactured experience. And it’s a great way to see the landscape around you in a very unique way.’

Okay, we’re with you. But surely it’s a tad chilly for even the heartiest of swimming enthusiasts? Rew laughs. ‘Of course the weather’s inconvenient here, but you can’t go to Majorca everytime you fancy a swim with a view, and actually most of the problem for people taking the plunge is the idea of cold water, not the experience itself. In reality, it’s far better for increasing endorphins than tepid water is!’

Rew is currently working with Nairn’s, as part of their new national campaign Nairn’s Natural Woman, and is keen to highlight how wild swimming can help an over-all sense of well-being.

And, she adds, you don’t have to be a professional swimmer to enjoy it, with many safe tidal and river pools across Scotland to take a first dip in, and with numbers growing all the time at the Outdoor Swimming Society. ‘Whether it is swimming in rivers, lakes or the sea, outdoor swimming gives people a wonderful sense of freedom and adventure,’ says Rew. ‘You can’t ask for more than that.’

North Berwick Beach, Edinburgh, Sat 20 Mar, 2pm. See www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com; via www.nairnsnaturalwoman.com

www.list.co.uk/aroundtown Hitlist FAIRS, FASHIONS, FESTIVALS *

✽✽ Glasgow Art Fair Scotland’s National Art Fair rolls into town complete with bargains aplenty. See picture caption. George Square. Glasgow, Thu 25—Sun 28 Mar. ✽✽ The Big Dunk Go a bit wild and take the plunge with Scotland’s latest craze. See left. North Berwick Beach, North Berwick, Sat 20 Mar. ✽✽ The Scottish Variety Awards 2010 Scotland’s glitterati get their gladrags on for a roster of entertainment, including a performance by Amy MacDonald, all in aid of Cash for Kids. Crowne Plaza, Glasgow Fri 26 Mar. ✽✽ The Hairy Bikers’ Big Night Out The bearded twosome ride into town to talk about food, biking and much more besides. Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Thu 25 Mar; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 27 Mar. ✽✽ Edinburgh Charity Fashion Show Top notch student-run show, this year walking the walk for Marie Curie, The Scottish Association for Mental Health and Poppy Scotland. Corn Exchange, Edinburgh, Fri 19 & Sat 20 Mar. ✽✽ Mary King’s Ghost Fest Prepare to be spooked by Edinburgh’s dark tales and strange paranormal activity. Various venues, Edinburgh, Thu 18–Tue 23 Mar. 18 Mar–1 Apr 2010 THE LIST 29