Whether you call it Wild Swimming, Open Water Swimming, or just good old fashioned Swimming there’s no doubt that this is an activity that has grown into more than just a hipster fad. Open water swimming is not especially new either, with records of competitive open water swimming in Japan dating back to 36 BC and none other than Lord Byron taking up the challenge of swimming Hellespont in homage to Leander of Greek mythological fame. This is an activity that’s free, fun and open to almost everyone so long as the essential safety precautions are taken.
Benefits of Open Water Swimming
- Open water swimming is an immune system boosterResearchers from the Czech republic discovered that cold water immersion has a seriously good impact on your white blood count which is great news for your immune system.
- Open water swimming is a mood boosterDopamine and serotonin levels increase and endorphins do their feel-good thing following an outdoor swim. A study by BMJ found an immediate improvement in mood after every swim.
- Open water swimming is a stress relieverBeing in the water allows you to focus on just one thing and can help your parasympathetic nervous system come to the fore. This creates feelings of calm and control, taking over from the fight or flight impulse that delivers all that stress.
- Open water swimming is a performance boosterExtreme environments boost oxygen uptake and a plunge into open water can have a significant impact on your out of water performance.
- Open water swimming is a fast fat burnerCold temperatures promote brown fat, which boosts your metabolism to keep you warm. This is a definite improvement on the white stuff that sits displeasingly around your stomach.
Why Alpine lakes are a great place to enjoy open water swimming
Consider the physical benefits of open water swimming with the mental benefits of immersing yourself in nature and it becomes clear why choosing to swim in an alpine lake makes absolute sense. This isn’t news to those in the know of course, and many alpine resorts have superb facilities to enable people to enjoy the lakes in summer, as much as they enjoy the mountains in winter.
Some of our favourite alpine lakes for summer swimming
Swimming with a view of Mont Blanc? Sounds good to us. Biotope Lake near Megeve makes this possible, plus the custodians of the lake are taking huge strides to ensure the alps are enjoyed in an environmentally responsible way. There’s no salt or chlorine involved in keeping the waters pristine, just the filtration of over 10,000 aquatic plants and capacity is limited to allow the plants to do their thing. To get the full benefits of cold water swimming you’ll have to take an early dip though – the water warms to a dreamy 26° at the height of a midsummer’s day.
After your swim, there’s plenty of space to sunbathe as well as a bar and restaurant to enjoy – all under the gaze of beautiful Mont Blanc.
This is the second largest glacier fed lake in France and it’s regarded as one of the cleanest. Lake Annecy has 12 beautifully maintained beaches and enjoys temperatures of up to 22°c. As well as swimming, you can hone your skills at watersports like SUP, water skiing and kayaking as well as enjoying an afternoon or two bobbing about on a pedalo. There’s also the option to take up the challenge of swimming the full 15k length of the lake – a superb summer achievement. SwimQuest Annecy offers full support and training to help you reach this admirable goal.
Flumet Lake is a great family day out. It’s part of the Arrondine leisure centre and you can enjoy sports like tennis and volleyball as well as the joy of swimming in the lake. It’s a great place to relax and soak up the season, as well as somewhere to sharpen your sporting skills.
Sitting at 360 metres, just below the Col de l’Epine, Lake Aiguebelette is an emerald oasis. There are no motor boats here, and tranquillity traces through the trees. It’s near to the Parc naturel regional de Chartreuse and a beautiful place to settle back into nature and allow those stresses to melt away.
Lac aux Dames
Just 8 minutes drive, or a pleasant half hour walk from Samoens, Lac aux Dames is the perfect place to while away those alpine summer days. While you can’t swim in these lakes, there are no less than three outdoor pools to enjoy, as well as water slides and other family focused activities. For more chilled out pursuits, take a walk on one of the forest trails, or indulge in a game of boules. There’s a restaurant and bar here too.
Lac de Montriond, Morzine
Formed after part of Mont Nanteau fell to create a natural dam, Lac de Montriond is around 8 minutes drive from Morzine. The lake is about 33 hectares in total, and around 1km long. It’s a superb place to take the plunge into open water swimming, although the crisp, clear water is cold enough to make a wetsuit advisable.
As well as swimming there are other ways to enjoy your summer here. Fishermen will relish the chance to catch Fario trout or Rainbow trout - you’ll need a fishing licence and to wait until the snow has fully melted to get going on your catch. Families are well catered for too, there’s pony trekking, canoeing and mini-golf to enjoy, as well as a splash pool for little ones. One of the loveliest things to do post-swim is to explore the trails around the lake, before heading back to your chalet or apartment to watch the sunset.
Perfect alpine summer
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