Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

'It's invigorating': Wild swims on rise at Scotland's beaches

Jenny Latto (L) and Anna Neubert-Wood at Portobello beach in Edinburgh
Image caption Swimmers braving the sea are on the increase

The temperature on Edinburgh's Portobello beach reads 3C (37F), and most people taking the sea air are still dressed in their winter coats and cosy clothes.

However, two brave souls are wearing only swimsuits and woolly hats, about to dip their toes - and more - in the water.

Jenny Latto and Anna Neubert-Wood are part of a recently-formed sea swimming group, which goes out regularly in all weathers.

So why open water, and not a pool?

Mrs Neubert-Wood said: "You're out in the elements, you're connecting to nature. There's always a chance that a fish might jump up at you or a seal might swim alongside you."

Taking the plunge

Mrs Latto said she gets nervous before taking the plunge.

However, she said: "Once you're submerged and your body's under, it's fine. It's the coldness in the water which I find invigorating, and you don't get that in a swimming pool."

According to Scottish Swimming, more people are taking to the open water.

Image caption Anna Neubert-Wood and Jenny Latto say they follow safety guidelines and never swim alone

The organisation runs a number of courses to prepare people for the hazards of wild swimming.

Kirsten Philips, Scottish Swimming spokeswoman, said: "The popularity of these events have grown and grown. And many people are taking part with the view to do open water swimming in 2016.

"There's always been a love of the great outdoors and this is an extension of this.

"The mass participation events such as the Great Swim series have captured the imagination and people realise you don't have to be an elite swimmer to take part in these."

'Completely refreshed'

However, she warns that swimmers need to be prepared.

"The coldness of the water can really take people by surprise. The body can go into shock and while the surface of the water may look calm, you don't see the undercurrents.

"And the sense of direction is often more difficult swimming in the open, and with the currents and weather conditions you can swim off track."

The Portobello pair follow safety guidelines and never swim alone. They also look out for each other in the water.

Emerging from the sea after their morning splash, Mrs Latto and Mrs Neubert-Wood said they felt refreshed and ready to face the day.

Despite numb fingers and toes Mrs Neubert-Wood said: "That was amazing. Now the sun's out and if you close your eyes you can imagine you're somewhere warm."

Mrs Latto said it was addictive.

She said: "I just feel completely refreshed. It gives you a boost of energy, and your mood is completely lifted and you just feel brilliant."

Luckily, there are Turkish Baths nearby where they can warm up.

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