Since the start of 2020, 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.
And with many people looking at vacations within their home country in 2021, Sepa expects it to be a “busy year for the country’s beautiful beaches”.
Scotland has 85 officially designated bathing waters across the country that Sepa monitors for water quality during the bathing season, which runs from June 1 to September 15.
Samples are taken throughout the recording period to calculate a classification for exactly how clean areas are for swimming and more, and in the most recent data, 21 have been rated “Excellent”, 31 “Good”, 20 as “Sufficient”, and five as “Poor”.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
Smaller groups have also cropped up during lockdown, and many have created lasting friendships.
Here are the 29 cleanest Scottish waters for wild swimmers to take a dip in this summer, according to the latest data from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
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.
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.”
Sepa’s hopes for a hot Scottish summer
Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of Sepa, said he hopes Scotland will have good weather this summer so people can enjoy a swim without getting too nippy.
He said: “Protecting and improving our bathing waters is crucial for our environment, local economies and communities.
“We hope Scotland’s weather will enable both residents and visitors to enjoy our seaside resorts and beaches over the summer months, and with 94% of our beaches already meeting strict environmental standards, it’s great to see that there has been a continued general improvement in Scotland’s classifications over the last few years.