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Wild Swimming? Take The Plunge In Fife!

06 June


Wild swimming (known locally as ‘going for a dook’!) is very popular in Fife, with swimmers from near and far taking full advantage of the Kingdom’s sandy beaches and sheltered bays.

“Wild swimming has surged in popularity over the last few years,” says Aidan Duncan, Education Manager at Fife Coast & Countryside Trust. “Personally, I think this is because, if you’re near the coast, wild swimming is an easily-accessible adventure sport – and you’re never far from the sea in Fife.”

Aidan, who is a highly-experienced wild swimmer, stresses that, as with all adventure sports, it’s important to learn the basics in as safe an environment as possible. “There are five beaches in Fife that are cracking places for people who have no, or limited, experience of swimming in the sea,” says Aidan.

Aidan explains that, in partnership with the RNLI, Fife Coast & Countryside Trust provides Beach Lifeguard Supervision during the summer holidays at:

Aberdour Silver Sands
Burntisland Beach
Leven Beach
Elie Harbour
St Andrews East Sands
St Andrews West Sands

“It’s always safer to swim at a beach where there’s lifeguard cover,” adds Aidan. “At these five Fife beaches, you can have a chat with one of the lifeguards before swimming as they’ll be able to give you helpful tips and advice, as well as keeping an eye on you when you’re in the water.”

Although wild swimming requires much less equipment than most adventure sports, if you’re planning on being in the water more than ten minutes, Aidan recommends wearing a good wetsuit – and, if you suffer from cold hands and feet, open-water swimming gloves and socks. “Also, it’s a good idea to tow along a swimming buoy or tow float. If you get into trouble in the water, one of these brightly-coloured buoys will enable rescue services to find you while also helping to keep you afloat.”

If you’re an experienced wild swimmer, Aidan reveals that there’s no shortage of good swimming spots around the Fife coast. “However,” he adds, “always swim with at least one other swimmer or, ideally, a group of swimmers.

“In addition, always let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be going into the water and when you’ll come out of the water – and call them whenever you’re back on land. If you don’t call at the expected time, they should immediately call HM Coastguard (01224 592334).” Alternatively, download the RYA’s Safe TRX (https://www.rya.org.uk/knowledge/safety/keep-in-touch/safetrx) app from the Apple App Store or Google Play and send information about your swim directly to HM  Coastguard.

If you’re swimming at an unsupervised beach, Aidan stresses that there are five questions you should always be able to answer before going for a dip.

  1. Are you confident and competent enough to wild swim at this spot? “Swimming in open water can be pretty intimidating - you can’t just turn up and jump in,” explains Aidan.
  2. Where can you enter and exit the water? “It might just be a case of leaping off a rock or a harbour wall into the sea – but is there an easy way out if a quick exit’s required?” asks Aidan.
  3. Are there any hazards you need to be aware of? “Before going into the water, sit on the beach for fifteen minutes, watching what’s happening in the water, what way the wind is blowing and how the currents are flowing,” advises Aidan.
  4. What is the tide doing and what weather conditions can you expect? “To get the best experience, check tide times and the weather forecast before planning your swim,” Aidan suggests.
  5. What can you do to avoid rip currents? “Research what rip currents are and how they can affect you,” stresses Aidan. “If you get caught in a rip current, don’t try to swim against it. Try to wade rather than swim. If you can’t stand up, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip current, head for shore, raise your hand and shout for help.”

Information about visiting the Fife beaches with FCCT/RNLI Beach Lifeguard Supervision can be found on the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust website.

If you're looking for more wild swimming spots, check out our Fife Fife Dookin Spots 

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