Today we have a lesson focused on English conversation, a conversation about wild swimming in the UK. Being surrounded by water means most around 75% people in the UK learn to swim at an early age. However, many of those swimmers are turning to rivers, ponds, lakes and the sea to swim rather than use the thousands of swimming pools throughout the UK.
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Most Unusual Words:
Swims Snooker Origami
Most common 2 word phrases:
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Transcript: An English Conversation Lesson About UK Wild Swimming
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We are here to help you improve your understanding of spoken English and improve your conversational English. So we cover lots of English conversation topics, then you can practise.
A New Year Dip
So one of the things I noticed on the news over the New Year period, and something which happens every year – lots of people go for an open air swim on New Year’s Day or around that time. New Year means just that - a new year – and this time it’s 2020. So New Year’s Day is 1st January, of course. So lots of people celebrate by jumping into a lake or some other kind of outdoor water – and having a swim. The water this year wasn’t freezing, but the temperature ranged perhaps between 3C and 6C. So pretty chilly and typical of the UK in winter.
The Outdoor Swimming Society
In the UK, there is actually an Outdoor Swimming Society – which puts people in touch with other swimmers, through their website. And locally, there are wild swimming clubs, which you can join for advice on outdoor swimming, where to go, what precautions to take. And apparently there are hundreds of clubs now, with a membership rising to more than 70,000 people in the last two years, according to the Outdoor Swimming Society. Now 10 years ago the number of outdoor swimmers was more like 200 or so.
So vocabulary here. ‘What precautions’ to take’ means what safety measures, what things do you need to do or to be careful of? Outdoor swimming is not risk-free, so you need to know how to do it safely. And the local clubs – so a club is C-L-U-B. And that means a group of people who connect with one another, speak with one another, meet up, because they’re interested in the same thing. So you might have a canoeing club, or an origami club or a cookery club.
So a club...the club is the organisation, and a club will have members, M-E-M-B-E-R – that’s the people in the club. And the word collectively for those people is a membership, so member again, M-E-M-B-E-R with ship, S-H-I-P on the end - membership. You might also talk about your individual membership as in ‘Oh, I must renew my membership of the Snooker Club’. That would probably mean that you pay a fee, or a subscription, some money – although the Outdoor Swimming Society doesn’t charge a fee. So English conversation lessons – that’s members, membership and club - [they] are all good pieces of vocabulary to learn.
There are also what are known as ‘mass swims’. This is where a lot of people swim together – it’s an organised swim in the open air. A bit like a park run, but with swimming. And here swimmers can pay anything from £50 upwards to do wild swimming en masse, with other people. In 2019 in the UK, there were over 200 mass swims at a variety of locations, up and down the country. So why would you want to swim in cold water, in the open air in the UK, in winter?
As long as I'm enjoying swimming, I will keep swimming.
⭐ Cate Campbell, Australian Athlete
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Why Do People Do Wild Swimming?
So back to the wild swimming or outdoor swimming. So my reaction to this tends to be one of horror! Why would you want to swim in cold water in the open air, in January? I’m the sort of person for whom it’s got to be around 35C before I’m tempted to go into the water for a swim. Needless to say, this doesn’t happen in the UK, but rather only when I’m on holiday in a warm country, like Greece last summer. So why is wild swimming so popular?
A photograph of a man swimming in a traditional swimming pool. The English conversation lesson mentions how some swimmers in the UK don't like swimming traditional pools.
Well, the reports say that people feel liberated, free. They don’t like going to the local indoor swimming pool, because it’s not a pleasant experience and there are lots of rules. The water is often chlorinated, and not very pleasant. So swimming outdoors is more picturesque – that means it looks nice, like a picture. So that word is ‘picturesque’, P-I-C-T-U-R-E-S-Q-U-E. It means the view is nice. And apparently outdoor swimming is a very freeing thing to do. The water may not be superclean – but what is in the water is natural, not added chemicals. Also people seem to become quite passionate about it – they speak positively about how it makes them feel. People report that it lifts their mood, makes them have energy. People also claim to have fewer minor ailments, minor illnesses – like colds or migraines. A migraine, M-I-G-R-A-I-N-E, is a severe headache, something that lots of people have. And people say that after an outdoor swim, they glow afterwards. ‘To glow’, G-L-O-W is a verb, and it means to light up, with a gentle light. So after your swim, there’s a pleasant feeling as though you’re glowing. It certainly seems to get people hooked – and here ‘hooked’, H-O-O-K-E-D here means that once they’ve done it, they can’t seem to stop doing it.
Health Benefits of Wild Swimming
A bit more research tells me that apparently wild swimming, in cold water improves your circulation – it gets your blood flowing better around your body. It can boost your immune system. Your immune system is the system in your body that fights off illness and disease and ‘to boost’ something, B-O-O-S-T means to give it more power. So boosting your immune system. It’s also meant to be helpful for weight loss, if you want to lose a few pounds or kilos in weight. You lose much more weight when you’re outdoor swimming, because your body is trying to stay warm. So you burn more calories. And finally, it’s known for being good for your mood. It boosts your endorphins, apparently.
Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript
So maybe that’s something worth looking into – I still can’t imagine it! I’m someone who doesn’t mind putting my feet, my toes into a cold sea, or a cold lake – but I hate the feeling of cold water further up. Brrr! But, an interesting topic for English conversation, I hope you’ll agree. There must be something in it, if so many people are fans of wild swimming.
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.