The Complete Guide to Wild Swimming in Ireland

You may be thinking, what is wild swimming? Wild swimming is another term for open water swimming, this is the process of going swimming in a natural body of water, whether it may be a lake, pond, river, or the ocean - meaning no man made structures. People tend to find the experience of wild swimming exhilarating, the rush of adrenaline, the spine tingling cold water all contribute to a liberating yet refreshing experience. Not only is it a great way to amp up your everyday swimming routine but it adds an element of adventure and thrill. Open water swimming has proven to help manage anxiety and stress, as well as other healthy benefits such as reducing body ache and boosting brain power.

Wild swimming is becoming more and more popular in Ireland with plenty of beautiful spots around, and with the sun shining - who wouldn't want to take a dip in the Irish waters? Join the locals by grabbing a wetsuit or swimming costume and plunging into the cool, refreshing water. There are many different spots dotted around the coast and even inland, they are safe to swim in and tend to have life guards on duty during the summer. We've picked a few spots that we think you should add to your wild water swimming list, here are our top 5...

(Before venturing out into the waters of Ireland please take a look at the Irish Water Safety's 14 rules for safe swimming. Make sure to never swim alone and always put your safety first. Enjoy!)
Wild Swimming

Wild Swimming

1. The River Barrow, County Carlow

The glistening Rive Barrow is the second-longest river in Ireland and is considered a hidden gem, but certainly a favourite to locals. The scenic walk between the two villages of Graignamanagh and St Mullins is around 8km, you'll be able to admire the beautiful lock houses whilst also walking through forests. Finally ending in your swimming spot, plunge into the crisp waters and appreciate the greenery surrounding you - but be careful as it is a big river, so the flow may be rough. Head over to the Mullichain Café for scrumptious tea and scones post swim.

2. Glanmore Lake, County Kerry

This fresh water lake based on the Beara peninsula makes for an idyllic location for a first-time wilder swimmer as it is a secluded lake swim. The tranquil waters are perfect for any type of stroke - but watch out for the rock islands as you don't want a bump! Make sure to take in the view of the Caha Mountains, which reflect along the whole lake. Once you've finished with your swim you can hop out and explore the man made crannóg (an artificial island) and head up the mountain.

3. Carlingford Lough, County Louth

This glacial fjord based in County Louth forms the border between northern and southern Ireland making it one of the top attractions around. It boasts stunning views of the Mourne Mountains, which are the peaks  that inspired the famous Narnia written by CS Lewis. It would be a crime to visit the coast without splashing your feet in the crystal-clear water, if you are serious about taking a dip in the breathtaking waters, be warned to bring a wetsuit as it is cold. Warm up in a the cosy PJ O Hare's with a big bowl of chowder and wheaten bread.

4. Lough Ouler, County Wicklow

Looking for a remote swim? Lough Ouler is a wild swim for you, this corrie lake lies at the base of Tone Mountain. The heart shaped lake is usually a used as a post-hike dip, as the trek to get there is just under an hour - don't worry it'll be worth it. The dark, yet fresh water tends isn't a popular swimming spot due to it being nearby a well known walking trail, but is perfect for wild swimming as you will most likely be alone. However, you may be joined by some spontaneous hikers that are lured in to the cold waters.

5. Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim

Ballintoy Harbour may look familiar to you, especially if you're a Game of Thrones fan, as it is also know as the Iron Islands. This clear watered beauty is along the Causeway Coastal route and not too tricky to find. Once you've parked at the harbour, walk back up the round and look at for a small entrance, this will lead you down a path to a long stretch of golden sands leading to your swim spot. This beach is well-loved by both surfers and swimmers due to the picturesque views, if you're really feeling adventurous you can explore the coves of Ballintoy. Looking for a bite to eat? Pop on over to The Fullerton Arms known for their mussels (their door was also used on Game of Thrones!).

14 Steps to Safe Swimming

Irish Water Safety has published a list of 14 rules to stay safe whilst in the water:

  1. Don't swim alone
  2. Don't swim just after eating
  3. Don't swim when you're hot or tired
  4. Don't swim in strange places
  5. Don't swim out after anything drifting
  6. Don't stay in the water too long
  7. Don't swim out to sea
  8. Swim parallel and close to the shore
  9. Do what the lifeguard tells you
  10. Never use air mattresses
  11. Pay attention to signs on the beach
  12. Don't be a bully
  13. Learn to use equipment before trying it out
  14. Learn basic life support
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Check out our full wetsuit collection. We hope this blog has helped you understand what wild swimming is and help you given you an idea of where to take your first dip! If you have any recommendations feel free to leave them below! Happy Swimming!

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