Thinking of trying Open Water Swimming with us?

Open Water Swimming has so many benefits such as, improve mental health, boosts your immune system, better night’s sleep, improves circulation and many more!

At Willowgate are here to support anyone who want to push themselves and try something new, and our swimming community is no different. Our open water swimming is a great place for people who want to start swimming and get some confidence while feeling safe, meet like-minded people or get those laps in for training. What better place to get away from the stresses of life and busy streets than down at Willowgate where you are surrounded by the views of river Tay and Kinnoull hill and might see some wildlife while swimming in the peaceful and beautiful side to Perth.

But why listen to us when you can hear how great swimming in our lagoon is from one of our regular swimmers, Steph, who has been swimming with us for over a year now and has made some amazing accomplishments and has plans for more in the future.

What got you interested in Swimming at Willowgate?

“One sunny, Spring, Saturday morning in April, I was walking my daughter to her activity day at the wonderful Willowgate Centre, and I saw a bunch of nutters with brightly coloured swim hats swimming in the manky pond. I was shocked!! But something about all these nutters (as I initially thought!) caught my attention. They were all different shapes, sizes, and ages, with both men and woman taking part. Some were sprinting round doing the crawl and others, just having a natter doing the breaststroke. They all looked so happy and zen like, united, if that makes sense? The image stayed with me most of the day and the week ahead.”

What gave you the motivation to start?

“After eating my way through two lockdowns and drinking a ton of Prosecco, in order to make home schooling 3 kids, as well as a toddler on the loose, more enjoyable, I was barely able to fit through a doorway. I had been thinking, for a few weeks “enough is enough, fatty! Do something!!” the local leisure pool was closed for refurb so that put an end to that plan. I was just about to give up on my fitness plan and grab a bag of share size Cadbury buttons to scoff all to myself, when I suddenly remembered the beautiful scene of the zen looking swimmers, eww but in a pond … no way!! But being barely able to get down to the floor to play with my 2-year-old for rolls of flabber, I gave myself a stern talking to, bit the bullet and booked in for my maiden open water swim! Arghhh!!”

How did you feel showing up to your first Swim?

“It was a busy Saturday evening, and I began to chicken out, but my husband and kids where with me, telling me I could do it. So, not wanting to lose face in front of the hubby, and not wanting to show fear to my kids, I marched onwards to the water. However, my heart was pounding with fear, and I decided at the last minute to just turn around and run back to the car. Suddenly, I heard a friendly voice asking if I was new? But I kept my head down and just kept walking, hoping the voice would go away. My darling husband grabbed me and answered for me! Grant, who was the friendly voice, made me feel so welcome and took time to talk me through everything and encouraged me no end, I still say it if it wasn’t for him, I’d never have gone in!”

And how did your first swimming experience go?

“Well, I did go in (fell in actually and have it all on video!) and I’ve never looked back! I eventually ditched my trusty red noodle and was able to swim solo, the feeling of being in the water was something I wasn’t prepared for, to me, any type of open water was manky, and I thought I’d be swimming next to litter and rats. Far from it! The water was so refreshing and clear. My body, that was used to feeling the strain of carrying my lard ass around, felt light and weightless. I had to try and remember how to swim, whilst trying to breathe through the shock of being in 13-degree water for the first time, but instantly I knew I was hooked!”

How does Open Water Swimming make you feel now?

“When I’m swimming, I’m just me, I’m not a mum, wife, daughter, it is just me and my thoughts. As I swim around, surrounded by beautiful scenery, I sometimes have to pinch myself to realise that I am actually doing it. I’m not going to lie, there have been times when I get quite overwhelmed and have a wee cry at just how incredible it is, but that’s ok… it’s MY TIME! I can do what I want! Through taking the plunge at the end of April, I feel my life has changed so much! I have made some amazing new friends and met some super interesting people, even featured in a wild swimming YouTube advert for visit Scotland! I feel so much happier, the last 18 months have changed my life forever and given me a much-needed hobby/escapism. Most importantly, it has made me healthier, so I can be the best mum I can, to my 4 wonderful children and God willing, maybe added a few extra years onto my life span!”

Do you have any advice or anything to say to people who are thinking of starting Open Water Swimming?

“To anyone reading this, who is considering doing open water swimming, I say do it!!! Take the plunge and you won’t regret it! But do it safely, there are so many groups on Facebook, you can join, who arrange swims and offer advice. There is something rather magical about the swimming community, there is zero judgment, just support. And I couldn’t be prouder to be one of the “nutters” swimming in the brightest swim cap I can find! In this mad world the water feels like a safe haven. I’ll see you in there, I hope!”

If that has made you want to immediately get up and run down here to jump in our lagoon then say no more, check out our Open Water Swimming page for our timetable. Grab your swim gear and we will see you soon!