I think that this is now a regular feature of my blog, travel reminiscence pieces and in this particular case, part of the ‘Year and a bit in New Zealand and Australia’ section.
Mention the idea of wild swimming to anyone in England and you’re likely met with responses such as “You’re not allowed?” or “But you could die!”. Contrast this with multiple families that I stayed with in The Land of the Long White Cloud, who were quite happy for their very young children to walk me miles away to rapid moving rivers and throw themselves in with me!
Swimming up the Motueka River looking up at the mountains will always stay with me… but you swam to nowhere! You swam to stay in one place, to avoid being swept away. It was nice to wash off the sweat from having spent the morning clearing gorse under the sun. The only problem was that by the time you’d climbed back up to the house you’d be all sweaty again and the only water was back down at the river!
There was another river, near Arrowtown I think, near another more celebrated town… Queens! It was at the far end of a farm and again you swam to nowhere. Had you actually been swept away, I think that there were soon some rocks that you would smash up against. Bruises is all, nothing serious and you wouldn’t actually get swept away… unlike in Motueka!
Had I seen the River Monsters eels in New Zealand episode before my trip, I would likely have been a bit more hesitant about throwing myself in rivers. The only place that I actually saw eels was a shallow ford that led to a host’s house, not quite deep enough for swimming.
I was also rather naive about the presence of sharks in New Zealand (But they’re in Australia!). My only sea swim was a very cold one up north, despite the offer of taking to the waves about an hour outside of Christchurch. Those waves looked like killers… no thank you!
There have been one or two brave and brief British dips, trying to relive the thrill… whilst keeping one eye out for human beings!
Why is it called wild swimming anyway? Surely it’s just swimming and swimming in a pool is the weird abnormal swimming.
Have you got any favourite swimming locations?
Oh… if you do fancy a dip, stay safe! Don’t dive in, know your depths, check the current. There’s a river near us that bubbles bizarrely and goes backward in part. No alcohol etc etc!