With most pools still closed, wild swimming is booming this summer, but what about those too nervous to dive in? Expert guidance on a peaceful Surrey river does the trick for our writer
I’m perched on the muddy bank of a river, working up the courage to enter the water. Hovering on the surface are what looks like an extended family of spidery bugs – water boatmen, apparently. “The presence of wildlife is a good sign,” says my swim guide Ella Foote, AKA the Dip Advisor, ignoring my grimace. “They need oxygen to breathe, so they indicate good water quality.”
I slither in and the icy cold water is a shocking contrast to the sizzling hot weather. I start to freak out a bit. “Try to calm your breathing,” says Ella, who know it’s my first ever wild swim. “We have all the time in the world.” I try to recall the yoga classes I once took, shut my eyes, and give it my best shot. It seems to do the trick, and I begin to acclimatise to the water.