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My Outdoor Swimming Story:

For me this journey of outdoor swimming in the UK began in August 2020 after coming back from a holiday and realising just how much I'd missed swimming during lockdown. Also I needed a focus. Not worked since March 2020 due to Covid killing my industry and so needed a goal. Started running 5k every weekday morning... but that didn't connect me to nature as much as swimming outdoors did. Also with the gyms being closed it helped me keep my body toned. I love the memories each swim has given me... from watching the sunrise reflect off the sea waves... to feeling the spray of water pour down from a waterfall... to watching the moon and stars and hearing nothing but my own breath in the darkness. And when the water got colder and colder I enjoyed observing how my body adapted. I never imagined that I could feel comfortable in it - but I did.. and it was sooo refreshing too. I videoed each swim and kept a note of how many I'd done... and I always celebrated the milestones of 50,100,150.. and then 200 swims with doing a Skinny Dip..... but as the weather got warmer I just kept on Skinny Dipping. At first with Edinburgh Skinny Dipping Stories…. and then on every occasion… I even managed to swim every day during the entire winter -- skinny!

Edinburgh Skinny Dipping Stories: 

The first group dip:

So. I met up with a Lawyer, an Architect, a Surfer and an Office Manager for an insurance firm on a deserted Scottish Beach for a blether and a skinny dip. At one point it felt like I was in some Film4 comedy as it was such an unlikely scenario to be in. (If there are any film producers in the group that could be a story line about people who are longing to live a more Scandinavian lifestyle and the lengths they go to). To overcome the strangeness of the situation as we finally strolled into the water I tried to imagine that I was on holiday Ibiza.... and was doing this as part of someone's crazy idea to cure a hangover in the early hours.
But, then once in.... and I felt the cold, fresh and revitalising water... I began to appreciate the stunning location and relaxed.. and enjoyed the every minute of it. Walking back out of the water there was no sense of unnaturalness - it just felt like we'd all been to the gym and were casually walking from the shower back to the locker room.... while continuing to blether.

Mid-life crisis? 

thought I was having a very public mid-life crisis by setting the Edinburgh Skinny Dipping Stories facebook group at the end of May 2021.... but I was totally surprised by the support it received. For me, swimming during lockdown was a fairly lonely experience - but the group changed all of that. It was so uplifting to share stories and laughter with so many like-minded people. It has also been a great way to meet people from many different backgrounds and learn about what they are going through.  

Edinburgh Skinny Dipping Stories is a tight-knit community of friendly swimmers, naturists and nudists... and everyone is made to feel at home. I keep the membership low to just those who actively engage with the group.. There is no obligation to share any images.. but I do encourage everyone to share stories... give praise... and to even consider attending one of the events as they certainly boost confidence. At one of the regular meet-ups people are able to challenge themselves to go for it in a friendly environment without any worries.
There is no reason to fear as it is not illegal to be naked in public if you are not deliberately attempting to cause anyone any distress or alarm.

Why have others joined the Skinny Dipping group? Here are some answers:
For the social aspect; For mental health; To connect with nature; It is liberating; It enhances confidence and self belief; There are no issues of equality as everyone is same; Less kit to dry; Far safer in a group; For the exercise; It offers the chance to normalise to the public what should be normal; It is a chance to meet like-minded folks.

Body Confidence:

Do you remember the first time you Skinny Dipped? 

How did it feel? Skinny Dipping in the UK is a recent affair for me.. especially in Scotland as I've always feared the cold and the midgy..   I’ve Skinny Dipped most years abroad for since 2014. It was on a family holiday to Saint Thomas, Menorca that I first tried it. We had read about an amazing 2.5km long beach in the neighbouring town of Son Bou as being the best on the island - so naturally we wanted to check it out. It was only a 35 minute walk along a costal cliff path to reach the start of it - but to get to all the bars and main tourist beach you had to walk a full 1km past hundreds of nudists. Doing that on a few days made it seem quite normal, so one day instead of trailing the full length of the beach to get to the non-skinny area we just pitched on the nudist one.
Looking around I thought and thought about doing it... but struggled. Yes, there were many people all along the beach naked... but I was soooo self-conscious. It seemed impossible. After a few hours of sunbathing, I thought what-the-hell as I was the odd one out and so just went with it. After a while it didn't seem too bad.... There were a few occasions where I felt the need to flip over onto my belly when I became too self-aware… Finally, it seemed that the best way to overcome my anxiety was just to not think about it… and just let it all hang out without worrying.
But, then I was so keen to go for a swim... but how? Everyone would be watching. I waited and waited... seeking an opportunity to get up without being noticed. After a while a younger couple started playing paddleballs to one side... to me they were just the distraction that I needed – people would (hopefully) be looking at them and not me. So up I jumped. The water was only 10m in front but I marched as quickly as I could to get into the sea. Success! ....and what a totally liberating feeling it was to be in the cool sea without a care in the world. It was amazing. What was all that panic about? I'd now got the bug for it and was back there most days as I began to crave the experience more and more. I'd like to say I blended in... but I still had the whitest backside on the beach… so was easy to spot! And guess where we stayed for our holiday 2 years later? Son Bou.

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Struggling with obesity: 

You can loose around 4 years of your life just from not being a healthy weight. 

Believe it or not, but before 2016 I was classed as obese and was struggling to get healthy (Over 16 stone). Luckily I saw this BBC Horizon programme on how to live longer.... as a result I started intermittent fasting. Put simply, I eat normally but have only lunch and no other meal every other day (just water in the evenings). I seriously recommend this programme if anyone is beating themselves up over their weight issues. It has really transformed my health. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lxyzc

(Once I got to 12 stone I changed the diet to only skipping evening meals -- eating nothing between 2pm and 8am every other day).

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Since 2019 I also became Vegan after watching these documentaries: 
Forks over Knives: https://www.netflix.com/title/70185045
The Game Changers: https://www.netflix.com/title/81157840
What the Health: https://www.netflix.com/title/80174177
Before the Flood: https://www.netflix.com/title/80141928
Cowspiracy: https://www.netflix.com/title/80033772


Midlothian

Glencorse Reservoir is great because you are hidden behind a large wall from the main path... 

Gladhouse Reservoir is perfect for sunrise dips and late night camp fires

North Esk Reservoir is ideal on calm sunny mornings... and you can combine a hill walk with it too! (optional) 


Edinburgh

Portobello Beach is stunning for sunrise swims in the summer...

Harlaw Reservoir is perfect on windy days during the week...  


East Lothian

Peffer Sands Naturist Beach is the most idyllic spot during the summer months...  

Longniddry Bents 1 (Seaton Sands Beach) is perfect for sunset swims at low tide

Aberlady Naturist Beach is the perfect place to sunbathe

See all my Naturist Swimming photos here: https://ourdream.smugmug.com/Skinny-Dipping-Stories/n-7Sdv7x/Lee/



Lee Live: Photographer, Edinburgh