Wild Swimming – lakes, rivers and ocean are becoming massively popular, but are they safe?
I get the idea of swimming in nature, and am a fan, especially in the ocean when we vacation in warm climates, but there are a number of scenarios that can endanger the swimmer.
The first that comes to mind is the “critters” that live in a wild environment, from large dangerous ones like sharks to the smaller less obvious, such as snakes. The most concerning factor to me would be the level of nasty bacteria and viruses that can abound in “wild water”. There are horror stories of bacteria that can enter a human through their nostrils and end up being brain destroying amoeba.
Swimming in or swallowing water containing toxin-releasing algal blooms can lead to skin rashes, eye irritation, severe gastrointestinal upset, fever, and muscle and joint pain.
The ocean brings its own set of concerns such as rip tides, wave action and untreated sewage run off, especially in developing countries.
Commercial swimming pools are regulated by national and state codes and inspected by state appointed health personnel, and if the chlorine and pH levels are in the proper range, the chance of catching any infection are extremely slight, and probably a better option for most of the population.
The key to choosing either one is to use your senses when deciding what water to swim in; is the a smell that puts you off; is the water visibly clear and clean. If you are able to search the web for condition reports on both wild and regulated water, that could alert you to any negative issues with either.
Bottom line is swimming is an important skill, and can save lives, especially for our children, so do your prep and then enjoy your experience.