One Last Breath – safer wild swimming in Wales

Fancy a cooling dip this summer? Learn where is and isn’t safe to swim with Welsh Water’s One Last Breath campaign and then take a swim at one of my four favourite spots in Wales.

Wild swimming safety - avoiding reservoirs where to swim in Wales One Last Breath campaign

Wild swimming is a joy. Taking to the beautiful rivers, lakes and beaches of Britain is one of my favourite ways to get outdoors in Britain, and seeking out lovely quiet spots is the perfect way to escape on a mini adventuere. But every summer would-be swimmers put themselves in danger by taking to the water in the wrong places.

Wild swimming safety: One Last Breath

Welsh Water are sending out an important message with their One Last Breath campaign – don’t swim in reservoirs. They may look placid and pretty from afar, but working reservoirs aren’t designed for swimming – they often hold freezing water and dangerous currents, not to mention hidden machinery and other nasties under the surface. Despite warning signs there are regular drownings in reservoirs, but Welsh Water’s hard-hitting new video One Last Breath and website aim to show their very real dangers.

Wild swimming safety - avoiding reservoirs where to swim in Wales One Last Breath campaign

Never fear, there are plenty of safe places to go wild swimming, and especially in Wales, home to miles of gorgeous beaches, waterfalls and secret lagoons. The key is to choose your spot responsibly and to take precautions before entering the water.

The golden rules of wild swimming

Only swim sober (save your picnic booze for afterwards)
Always check the depth of the water first
Search out an easy exit point before entering the water
Avoid swimming alone
Never swim in reservoirs or where warning signs are in place
Wear aquatic sandals with a good grip when on rocks
Wear a wetsuit in colder weather
Have a plan for warming up as soon as you get out
If you encounter weeds, don’t panic. They are easiest to navigate by floating gently through
Avoid swimming in city rivers – the water can carry harmful bacteria
Lakes and ponds can be home to nasties such as blue-green algae, a scum on the surface at of the water that can make you sick. Avoid swimming anywhere with stagnant water or a greenish bloom on the surface of the water.

Where to wild swim: four favourites in Wales

Wild swimming safety - avoiding reservoirs where to swim in Wales One Last Breath campaign

The Blue Lagoon, Abereiddy
My first experience of wild swimming in Wales was in this deep, cold ocean lagoon famous for its bright turquoise water. Once a quarry, the lagoon is so deep that the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series is held here, and if you fancy jumping in there are stone steps cut into the stone sides. The National Trust has further info on the lagoon.

Ystradfellte waterfall pool, Brecon Beacons
This chain of waterfalls is linked by a lovely hiking route and in the summer you can swim in the pool at the bottom of the largest fall, and even clamber in behind the water. Find my route guide here.

Porth Ysgo beach, Llyn Peninsula
A picture postcard of a beach, Porth Ysgo is all white sand, blue sea and jewel-green cliffs. The beach is sheltered, so the water tends to be calm and wonderful for swimming. Or if you fancy warming up before your swim try a spot of bouldering on the nearby rocks. Beachguide.Wales list directions for finding the beach and climbers can find routes in the UKC logbook.

Bluepool, Gower
My next wild swim is definitely going to be this charming rockpool carved out on Bluepool beach, near Llangenith, at every low tide. You have to hike to get to the pool, which is rumoured to be bottomless, meaning that it tends to be the perfect peaceful spot for a dip. Image above via Derek Whitely on Flickr. Find a map of the pool at Explore Gower.

Wild swimming safety - avoiding reservoirs where to swim in Wales One Last Breath campaign