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OSS Nomad Course
Spring 2018
Saturday 14th April 2018

For some time now I’ve wanted to have a better understanding of water and had a lust to seek it out in places that are more than just on my doorstep.  I swim every week in the Thames generally in the same four spots, Marsh Lock, The Flower Pot, Medmenham and Hurley.  They’re all super places to swim to and from, all for different reasons:

  • Marsh Lock is a beautiful spot on a summer’s evening as the sun begins to set, and in autumn as the leaves turn to golden brown. 
  • The Flower Pot has the pontoon that you can jump and dive off and the island by the weir to swim around. 
  • Medmenham has the Abbey of Hellfire Club fame and affords a longer swim up to and around a larger island and in the winter many a swoosh back downstream can be had. 
  • Hurley has lots of duck mites. Ok not so much of a plus but it does give us all something to talk about! 

I love these places and the people I swim with but I have the urge to spread my wings or perhaps that should be flap my flippers and go to places further afield. 

What has stopped me from diversifying my swimming locations up until now is probably a lack of confidence in knowing where to swim and not least of all a lack of understanding of where is safe enough to have an enjoyable experience.  So when I saw the Nomad Course being advertised by the Outdoor Swimming Society I immediately thought, ‘this is the course for me.’

The Nomad course is a new OSS venture in conjunction with Channel Training, an outdoor education and training provider with bases in Minehead and Taunton.  It’s described as ‘a wild swim course that will provide the essential (but elusive) understanding to further your wild swims’ and the blurb goes on to say that the ‘courses are designed for swimmers looking to build knowledge, confidence and develop ability to plan a swim with friends somewhere new.’  So as you can see if it did even half of what it says on the tin then I was pretty sure to get a great deal from it.

And so I did.  From the very beginning when the 24 attendees shared their swimming experiences and aspirations for the day, to the end of the day when we all took a dip in the sea I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.  

I learned so much, from the right kit to take out on a swim (who knew a ukulele is not essential?) to how to read water in lakes, rivers and the sea.  I found out that wind spirals anti-clockwise in direction in a low pressure system and clockwise in a high pressure system; well in the Northern Hemisphere anyway.  For the first time I can now say I have a good understanding of rip tides and how they form and I have an even greater respect of cold water. (But I’ll still be going in!)

I met some great people from all walks of life, wild swimming is after all a great leveller, and I bought Kate Rew’s ‘Wild Swim’ book and not only that spent a day with the author and got my book signed by her.  Now how cool is that?!! 

Having attended the course I now feel a much greater degree of confidence coupled with an increased appreciation and regard for the power of water both physically and spiritually.  The day made me realise that I already know a lot but also have so much more to learn, but what it has done more than anything else is whet my appetite for those more elusive swims that will take me further afield and widen my knowledge of what the world has to offer.

Big thanks go to the Outdoor Swimming Society for putting on such a super event.  In particular I’d like to thank Jim and Darren from Channel Training for the hard work they so obviously have put in to the course and for giving us all such a wonderful experience.

To anyone thinking about this course I’d like to say ‘stop thinking and just get signed up!’  It’s the best 140 I’ve spent in quite some time.
Now all I need to do is make a plea for an advanced course!

Outdoor Swimming Society Nomad Course


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