Swimming holes, such as hidden falls, shallows, rivers, and quiet ponds, provide a new take on recreational swimming. Surrounded by lush greenery and unaltered rock formations, swimming holes offer rustic charm in addition to their secretive ambiance. It is important to remember that swimming in these isolated locations is not without risks. To enjoy wild swimming, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Don’t forget where you are.
Don’t be deceived by the seemingly calm water. It’s easy to be fooled into complacency at your local swimming hole. But remember that it’s the wild. You can never tell when a tranquil stream becomes a rushing river. Pay attention to any changes in the environment, such as the current, heavy rains, floating or lodged debris, and visible soil erosion.
Check the current.
Fast flowing water can sweep you away. You could also get trapped in the undertow and pulled under. It’s always a good idea to do a simple test before making that first jump. Throw in a log or a branch and see what happens. If it gets pulled under or swept downstream, don’t swim.
Don’t swim with an open wound.
Bacteria is one of the main concerns in freshwater. If you have an open wound or punctured skin, bacteria can enter and cause infection. To be safe, it’s best to stay out of water if you have any wounds.
Never swim alone.
Aside from having someone to share the experience, swimming with a group of friends is helpful should things go awry. Safety in numbers and all that. If one of you gets hurt or disoriented, the others can help.
Don’t swim while under the influence.
As with driving, it’s strongly advised to not swim under the influence of alcohol. Drugs and alcohol can affect your senses, impair your judgment, and reduce your body’s response time. It also impacts your balance, and in a rugged swimming environment, this can be very dangerous.
Beware of slippery terrain.
The lush greenery of swimming holes is not without mossy terrain and wet, slippery rocks. You need to be extra careful when walking or maneuvering across them. Pay attention to logs, roots, and tree branches that can snag you. Sharp rocks underwater can also cause serious injuries if you accidentally hit them. Before jumping, make sure to wade out to the landing zone and check its depth. If in doubt, don’t jump.
Bring a rope and first aid kit.
Most swimming holes have no medical provisions, much less safety personnel, such as lifeguards or medics, on hand. It’s up to you to protect yourself and your loved ones. A simple long sturdy rope and first aid kit can make the day should something happen to someone in your pack.
Avoid swimming above or under a waterfall.
The current of any waterfall is so strong that one swimming above or below can get washed away. The undertow right where the water hits can trap even the most experienced swimmers. With these potential dangers, it’s best to avoid swimming above or under any waterfalls.
Summer swimming is best enjoyed when proper safety protocols are followed. Don’t spoil the fun by ending up in the emergency room. Stay safe, be prepared, have fun this summer.