October 17 2020 – Cecily Morgan

CALL OF THE WILD: CALUM HUDSON | criticallyendangered
CALL OF THE WILD: CALUM HUDSON | criticallyendangered

By Calum Hudson

We are slowly beginning to emerge from the societal cocoon of lockdown and the first signs of metamorphosis are beginning to show. Freed from the shackles of a sedentary lifestyle we have been released from the confines of our four walls. What have we missed most about the outside world? What do you truly value in our lives? It is a question many of us have likely been asking ourselves and there is one simple word that answers the entire question for me.... nature.

Nature and an attachment to the natural world are what I have missed the most. That freedom, sensual joy, and liberation of exploring the outdoors have always offered an escape from modern life. For me, the easiest way to quickly reconnect with nature and refasten that tether is to go for a swim outdoors. Stripping off, sprinting and diving into a lake, river, sea or pond is one of the simplest ways to immediately immerse yourself in mother nature's cool embrace. Diving into wild water became a crucial part of my life and would lead to hitherto unknown adventures.

After enjoying so many outdoor dips I decided to create a strange motley crew idea called the Wild Swimming Brothers. The concept was simple, my brothers Jack, Robbie, and I would go gallivanting off on wild swimming expeditions to try and promote outdoor swimming and inspire people to reconnect with the natural world. We started out with a 90-mile swim of our childhood river, the Eden, and snowballed as our ambitions got the best of us. Fast forward 5 years and our journeys have taken us to the Arctic Circle, swimming from Europe to Asia, the 3 largest maelstroms and even escaping from Alcatraz.

We've been so lucky to meet so many people who have also had their lives transformed by swimming outdoors. The combination of time in nature, cold water, and exercise is a lethal antidote to the stress and pressure of the modern world. It has offered us and many others a means with which to dilute and process the ultra fast-paced chaos of our society. The recent COVID-19 lockdown has really forced us to appreciate the power of outdoor swimming and its ability to bind us to nature.

After returning from a year living in Singapore I saw out lockdown at my mum's house in Dumfries, Scotland. We were lucky to find a little dipping pond at the bottom of her garden. It was about 7m in length and about 4m wide. The depth just crept past the belly button and whilst you could by no means hurl yourself into a length of front crawl it was enough for a dip. We began dipping at the end of every day, strolling down and wading out into the waters. Dunking, submerging, and diving beneath the surface we could feel the cold water reinvigorating us. This tiny pool had saved our sanity and offered a reminder of the healing effects of attachment to the outdoors.

As society continues to emerge from lockdown we are taking stock and reflecting on our past lives. We are also looking for people, brands, and leaders who share our vision of a stable natural world and a greater balance between humanity and the animal kingdom. Rampant consumerism, celebrity culture, and Instagram bragging seem grotesque and exorbitant in our current climate. The seismic aftershocks of the COVID-19 Pandemic can be turned into small positive tremors that collectively will amount to a societal earthquake. This earthquake is already taking effect as many people look to reprioritize their relationship with nature. There's no easier way to instantly remind yourself of this relationship than by stripping off and diving into a cool body of water. What are you waiting for?

Calum Hudson is a Maelstrom Swimmer and the middle brother of The Wild Swimming Brothers. You can follow their adventures on Instagram.