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Wild swimming: Check out the cleanest waters to take a dip in with our interactive map

The Wet Bandits swimming group. Photograph courtesy of Sam Brill.
The Wet Bandits swimming group. Photograph courtesy of Sam Brill.

The craze of wild swimming, or as others call it simply swimming outside, has made a huge splash across the country, with many people taking to rivers, seas and lochs for a dip for the very first time.

Scotland has 85 officially designated bathing waters across the country that Sepa monitors for water quality during the official bathing season, which runs from June 1 to September 15.

The Wet Bandits swimming group in the River Dee. Photograph courtesy of Sam Brill.

Samples are taken throughout the recording period to calculate a classification for exactly how clean areas are for swimming and more, and in 2021 data, 29 were rated “Excellent”, 31 “Good”, 20 as “Sufficient”, and five as “Poor”.

Here’s an interactive map of the 29 cleanest Scottish waters for wild swimmers to take a dip, and some information about each area.

Ready to find out more about wild swimming? Find out about the benefits it has brought these brave groups…

The Wet Bandits

The Aberdeen-based Wet Bandits wild swimming group started off earlier this year with a handful of friends going for dips in the North Sea as something to do in lockdown.

The Wet Bandits wild swimming group at Aberdeen beach. Photograph courtesy of Granite City Drone.

But as their fun photos spread on social media and popularity grew, the group, who swim daily Monday to Saturday at 6.30am, is now getting more and more people out for a “dook”.

A spokeswoman for the Bandits said: “Some days we have about 50 people, other days, it depends on how hardcore people are with coming out in the fog and drizzle.

The Wet Bandits wild swimming group at Cove. Photograph courtesy of Granite City Drone.

“We’ll either go in the sea or a river if it’s a bit too choppy, but we always find somewhere to dook.

“I went for my first wee swim last July. It’s popular, because people have been taking time to look after themselves, and care for their mental wellbeing.

The Wet Bandits group say wild swimming is great for their mental wellbeing. Photograph by Sam Brill.

“During lockdown it was also a great opportunity to check in with at least somebody, that five minutes first thing in the morning, even though you’re in the sea and it’s freezing cold, you’re doing something exhilarating together that gets your heart going.

“If somebody is living alone, or stuck with their family for however long, it’s a great chance to get out of the house and do something exciting.”

The Wet Bandits wild swimming group at Aberdeen Beach. Photograph courtesy of Granite City Drone.

Smaller groups have also cropped up during lockdown, and many have created lasting friendships.

The Good Vibes Tribe

Viktoria Eriksson, 27, from Aberdeen, is part of the “Good Vibes Tribe”, a small, 10-person group of women who love wild swimming in the sea every week.

The Good Vibes Tribe swimming group celebrating another wild swim.

She said: “For me, it started with a new year’s resolution to go into the sea at least once a month at the start of 2020.

“And with everything that happened in lockdown, I met a group of women that were going swimming as well, and so it was just so much more fun to go in as a group.

“We would never have met otherwise, we work in different jobs in different sectors, so for me it’s been a great way to meet new friends.

“When you’re in the water together you bond, you have to focus on your breathing, and you get such a freeing feeling from all the adrenaline – and it’s so fun to share it with other women.”

“We’ve really become a close group of friends.”

 

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