Flora Jamieson is a wild swimmer, stained glass artist and author of The Little Wild Swimming Book. She lives by the sea and swims most days throughout the year. We absolutely love following her wild swim life through her instagram account @thelittlewildswimmingbook. We caught up with Flora herself to dive a little deeper into her wild swimming life.
Where did the idea for your book come about?
I was invited to give a talk about wild swimming at a women’s retreat, and I wanted to produce a booklet that had useful, practical advice but that was also visually appealing and conveyed the beauty and joy of swimming outdoors, as well as being a nice gift for the attendees to take home with them. The first print run was 250 copies, with the idea being that we would sell the extra copies to cover the costs of printing. That print run sold out pretty quickly… and here we are, 4 years down the line and over 3,000 copies later!
How did you get into wild swimming?
I grew up in houses next to rivers and canals, and had a happy childhood paddling and swimming in them, so it is something I have always done. As an adult, apart from a few years in London, I have lived in various places near the sea – Sydney, Brighton, Whitstable, Bridport. For the past 4 years, I have continued to swim through the winter.
Where did you learn to swim?
At the local swimming pool. I can clearly remember floating on my back and kicking my legs while my mum had one hand underneath me, and then realising she had let go and I was swimming by myself.
Tell us about a typical day in your life.
I wake up about 6.15 and throw my swimming stuff on, eat a small bowl of granola and make some fennel tea in my travel mug, then head to the beach to meet up with my fellow morning swimmers at about 6.45 for a sociable dip. It’s usually a quick one as we all have kids of various ages to get off to school. Then it’s home for a quick shower and wave the kids off. After that I brew a coffee and go to my studio (which is in an outbuilding at my home) and start work, – I’m a stained glass artist, working on private and public commissions and for other stained glass studios on restoration projects. In the evenings I might squeeze a run in, or sometimes another swim if the weather is particularly lovely!
What is in your swim kit bag?
Summer: Swimming costume, Turkish towel, hot drink. In winter I add in: Dry Robe, neoprene gloves and shoes, and extra warm layers, gloves/scarf/hat and Ugg boots for afterwards. Plus a hot water bottle if it’s sub-zero!
Most memorable wild swim so far?
It’s so hard to choose just one! We have done some amazing full moon swims; swimming under a huge rising yellow moon in the inky black sea is always utterly thrilling. Also swimming in a lake in the midnight sunset in Sweden a few years back was wonderful. Waterfall swims are a particular favourite, especially as Dorset (my home county) is not blessed with many natural waterfalls, so it’s always a joy to seek them out whenever I go anywhere else.
Where is on your wild swim bucket list?
I’d love to go to Finland and also Croatia. Both countries seem to have lots of beautiful swimming locations. Closer to home, I’m planning to visit the the Waterfall Woods in the Brecon Beacons next month.
Your top tip for beginners to wild swimming?
Well, there’s this great little illustrated guide that gives lots of useful advice… ;) My other top tip would be to find, or form, a group to swim regularly with – it’s safer and more fun. Lastly, get familiar with Ordnance Survey maps – it’s a great way to discover new places to swim near you that you may not know about. Look for a footpath (dotted green line) running alongside a river or lake and then do a recce to see if there is any safe, public access there.
Written by wild swimming enthusiast Flora Jamieson and with Gemma Koomen’s charming illustrations throughout, this is a great gift for both the novice wild swimmer or experienced dipper.
This beautifully illustrated introduction to wild swimming book features practical advice, safety tips, inspiring quotes and resources. This guide is perfect for those wishing to dip their toe into the glorious pursuit of wild swimming in lakes, rivers, pools, waterfalls and the sea.