Some interesting outdoor swimming trends

Outdoor swimming trends (Picture: press release)

Outdoor Swimmer Magazine, the dedicated magazine dedicated to outdoor swimming, has launched its latest Trends in Outdoor Swimming report. This is billed as an annual review of what’s happening in outdoor swimming, this year based on a sample of 2,700 outdoor swimmers.

Survey highlights include:

  • 14% of survey respondents started outdoor swimming in the previous 12 months. At the same time, 42% of those swimming outdoors have been doing so for more than four years.
  • The most popular outdoor swimming activity is ‘wild swimming or dipping in summer’, with 84% of respondents saying this is an activity they’re interested in doing. This was closely followed by ‘wild swimming or dipping in winter’, which 75% of people in the survey were interested in. Both of these outstripped the desire for ‘recreational or fitness swimming in a pool’, which was of interest for a lesser 51%.
  • The most popular time of year for outdoor swimming is summer, followed by autumn. Winter was the least popular time of year to swim. In winter, half of people said they switched to fun dipping outside rather than trying to swim long distances. Meanwhile, 36% of people do more indoor swimming while fewer than 2% stop swimming completely during the winter.
  • The most common motivation cited for outdoor swimming is for mental health and general wellbeing, which was the first choice of one-third of respondents. A further 22% voted that reason as their second choice (out of six options). The next most popular was for physical health and fitness, which was the first choice of just under one-fifth of people and the second most important reason for 26% of people.
  • Sewage pollution and water quality is seen as the biggest barrier to continued growth in outdoor swimming, with 41% of people ranking it the highest obstacle. Access to water, legal restrictions or overbearing health and safety culture were seen as the next biggest barrier.
  • Regarding planned swimming activities over the next year, 80% stated that they ‘definitely want to wild swim in their own country’, and 52% definitely want to swim at a supervised venue. Just under a third of people say they definitely want to wild swim in another country with a further 32% saying it’s quite likely that they would.
  • It appears that growth in outdoor swimming continues to be driven by women, who made up 77% of the survey sample, up from 73% last year. A quarter of respondents are aged 40 to 49, just over a third are 50 to 59 and a fifth are in their 60s.

Author and founder of Outdoor Swimmer, Simon Griffiths, said “The last time our trends report was published (March 2022), the world was emerging from the Covid pandemic and was optimistic about 2022.

“We didn’t foresee war in Ukraine, spiking energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis. The ripples from those events have impacted outdoor swimming more than you might expect, given that it is, in essence, a free activity.”