Why we swim in Breckland waters

The Outdoor Swimming in Breckland Facebook group has now reached an amazing 500 members, and is a wonderful swimming community for this area. To celebrate, we asked members to tell us why they swim and what they get out of it, and to share photos of their favourite swim places in Breckland. And here is what they said – beautiful evocations of the joy of swimming.

I love the bite of the water as you submerge your torso. I love floating on my back looking at the sky with all the sounds muted with my ears submerged in the water.
Each place has its own special feeling.

a lake at sunset

I love the space it gives me, the sense of community, the friendship, the fact I might be swimming right next to a hunting barn owl, and of course the obligatory coffee and cake afterwards! I’m pretty new so can’t claim to have been to many places so far but I love the lake. Sarah 

a lake at sunset

Having moved away from the coast joining this group and finding the lake…….. words are not enough Jean 

bubbles in the water on the lake

The focus on my basic physiology as a human being. The notice of nature and movement around me. The distraction from all else. The colours, lights and smells. I could go on. I don’t want to commit to a favourite yet! But that feeling of vulnerability and capability when alone in the middle of  the lake is something I hadn’t felt before and I love it. Shauna 

Freedom, fulfilment, trust in and awareness of my body in all the right ways, you lot, my kids’ shared love for the water, the weird magic of the lake that encourages me to vent. I LOVE IT ALL. KH 

I love the needle-like sharpness of the lake in winter & the movement & buoyancy of the sea. The great people I have met through swimming are the icing on the cake. Clare 

ducks on a lake

I love the stillness and rhythm of the water. AR 

There are so many reasons why I love to swim, the feeling of the water, the pain relief, the nervous anticipation of getting into the cold water, the post swim buzz; I could go on. It’s part of who I am. Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful waters at the lake. JR 

a lake

There are lots of reasons I love to swim, for the adventure and excitement, to be daring, to push my boundaries beyond my comfort zone. To see the countryside from a new perspective, where I feel immersed in and very much at one with nature. I swim because I love the feel of water against my skin, when it tingles, burns or soothes and that sense of washing away the troubles of the day.
And most of all the exhilaration of feeling truly alive in that moment.
No favourites yet, but I love rivers, swimming a small stretch of something vast that could take you on a journey out to sea.

I like the adventure, the challenge, being close to nature, peace, and sometimes fun! Too many favourite places, but this is one of mine. Imogen 

river with vegetation

I love swimming because it’s relaxing and allows that weightless feeling. I’ve not been able to do any outdoor swimming yet due to illness (not Covid) but I hope to be able to very soon. LK 

Emersion in cold water calms me and quiet swimming amongst nature fills my soul. Simply hydro therapy. NA 

sun on the lake

I have always loved flowing stream , so full of life and fresh and clear .so thought I would join an outdoor swimming and like the stream flow without a care in the world, cautiously of course. swam at Hockwold and the lake, love them both but like to try more venues. Long may we flow (swim). TT 

river with clouds reflected

I love the shock as I get in, it almost kickstarts my body! It’s my ‘Therapy’ and I’ve met some lovely people! I ALWAYS feel better when I get out! I love the freedom you feel in the water, I love feeling the water against my skin and laying back looking at the sky and enjoying the feel of the sunshine, wind and rain. The sounds of the birds and the wind as it’s blows through the trees & creates waves in the water!
I can’t say I have my favourite place as I find each location has its own vibe. I guess the lake is my most popular location at present though x.

I haven’t yet found my favourite swim place…my never-ending quest continues! AS

The Outdoor Swimming in Breckland group started in March 2019, and was slow to grow and become active, but by autumn/winter 2019 it became busier, with a core of hardy swimmers meeting to swim in the coldest months. Clare joined me as co-admin for the group in the early days, when we wondered if anyone would come and join us. Asking why people swim to mark the 500 was her idea.

Most activities stopped in spring 2020, but with good weather and relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions more members are now meeting up (following guidance of course) to swim, with lots of people new to outdoor swimming joining the group and dipping a toe in the water. (taking responsibility for their own safety but with other swimmers offering support and sharing their experience). Many are unable to do their usual pool swimming or other activities and have more time on their hands, while many just like the idea of wild swimming, and want to start.

We now ask people to explain why they’d like to join, where they’ve been swimming so far and what their outdoor swimming experience is, as well as asking them to sign up to rules that make sure everyone can respect one another and the environment. We have notes gathering safety advice and other information including places to swim. The group covers the area on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, centred on Thetford Forest, though many members travel in from further afield. Their reasons for joining are many and various, but all share a love of swimming outdoors – or are looking forward to experiencing it.

The Healing Waters project, which will help promote safe and fun outdoor swimming in the area, funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, is just getting going this year. Read more about it, and the Tales from the River project looking at the history of swimming, on this separate OS Brecks section of this website, and find out more about these projects and others in  The Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, here http://www.brecks.org/BFER/ .