Open water specialists, Uswim, are preparing for their Christmas events which will begin this Saturday.
Jade Hanley, who takes part in Uswim’s events is an avid wild swimmer in her spare time. She said: “I love swimming in the Quays at both Uswim and the Helly Hansen Watersports centre, swimming in the Quays is special because it mixes nature and the urban environment.
“You can swim at the same place on two different days and have a completely different experience because of the weather, or seeing different wildlife, or the time of day.”
Uswim’s ‘Christmas Cracker’ event will take place this Saturday at Dock 9 in Salford Quays. The event will see 80 people taking a dip between 10am and 11am.
Their annual New Year’s Day charity swim will still be taking place and will be raising money for Emmelines Pantry and The Odd Balls Foundation.
Ms Hanley will be participating, she began swimming in nature after having a reaction to chlorine in swimming pools, since then she says that taking part in outdoor swimming is not only beneficial as exercise but for her mental health.
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She added: “Anyone who spends time outdoors; walking, running… knows how much it can help you clear your head, and I think the same is true of swimming.
“I really think it’s helped my mental health and the big event swim challenges I’ve done, like the 10 km swim last year, have definitely made me more resilient and confident in more than just swimming.”
During the Coronavirus lockdown, organised swimming was banned and this took a toll on people like Ms Hanley. She said: “It’s odd that in 2019 I was training for a 10k swim and basically doing nothing but swimming for several months, and then 2020 was the opposite.
“I didn’t miss having to wash lots of kit though!”
Ms Hanley is also the creator of Wild Swim Podcast where she interviews other open water swimmers. Speaking of the podcast, she said: “I’ve been lucky to speak to some fabulous people, from writer Tamsin Calidas who moved from London to a remote Scottish Island, to Matt Williams who did a challenge about swimming in every lake in the Lake District and walking between them all.
“I started Wild Swim Podcast to speak to other swimmers about what they love about swimming, and to share some of my swimming stories. I’ve also had some amazing, once in a lifetime experiences, like swimming from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz in San Francisco, and swimming in the sea when it was zero degrees in Iceland!”
Talking of swimming in winter conditions, Ms Hanley warned that open water swimming doesn’t come risk free so preparation, research and organised events are advised.
Dave Quartermain, founded the Uswim business over ten years ago and now the company have over 12,000 members.
Mr Quartermain said: “Our New Years Day 2021 Charity swim welcomes up to 300 swimmers jumping in up to six ‘waves’ of 50 people each.
“We’re bound by COVID-19 social distancing guidelines in our organisation of the event so swimmers will basically be asked to come to the swim area ‘swim ready’, launch themselves into the icy water then exit up a ramp, collect a commemorative medal and leave the area to get changed.”
He added: “There will be a PA, music, banners, bunting and flags to ‘dress’ the area up and give it a colourful, positive vibe.”
Talking of the charities, Mr Quartermain said: “As the festive period is traditionally a time for caring and sharing love, the proceeds from our New Years Day swim have always gone to various charities with over £80,000 raised to date.
“Dock 9, Salford Quays (Lowry Theatre) is our spiritual home and where we have been running open water events for the last decade. Over 100,000 people have shared our love for open water swimming during this time and it’s the perfect venue for our annual New Years Day swim because of its accessibility and central location.”
More information on the event can be accessed on their website.