If you want to take part in the OUTSIDE Study Find Out More

OUTSIDE2 is Open!

It is a great privilege to be part of this project and finally to be able to announce that the study is now open for people who would like to take part. The study involves introductory outdoor swimming sessions during the summer or early autumn in 2024 and 2025.  We have swim coaches based as far north as Sunderland and as far south as Penzance in Cornwall. We have swim groups taking place in coastal locations, in rivers, lakes and outdoor swimming pools also called lidos. Particularly in these outdoor swimming pools you don’t need to have experience of swimming. To see where the nearest course is to you and the swim experience requirements for specific sites, visit our locations page

We have a great team ready to help explain the study, and support you with the steps to getting involved.  To find out more about our team go to our research team’s page

The study is a randomised controlled trial which is looking to find out if outdoor swimming courses could help people living with depression. This type of study means that people taking part will be randomised to either the swim course and continue with their usual care or continue with their usual care alone. We will follow both groups for 9 months and over that time participants will be asked to complete 3 surveys, they can complete the surveys online or our researchers can help over the phone. For participants in the usual care group they will also be able to take a swim course at the end of their involvement in the study. For more information about the study, please have a look at the study overview

For more information about the research that has been completed so far, you can find this  in the section ‘The Science behind OUTSIDE’.

Finally, if you’d like to take part and support OUTSIDE2 to find out whether outdoor swimming courses could help people living with depression, click here and complete this short form.


Heather Massey

Men in trunks – New podcast!

This is just a headline, you don’t need to wear trunks, but now we have you, why not tune in to our new podcast episode.

Some think that outdoor swimming is just for women. The answer is most definitely not.  There is room for anyone who would like to try it. Our latest podcast episode ‘Men in Trucks’ stars Dr Mark Harper and Pete White, who both swim outdoors.  In this podcast, they explain in their own words what their outdoor swimming means to them; where they swim, how they swim and who they swim with.

Mark Harper is a consultant anaesthetist and part of the medical team for the OUTSIDE research study. He is based in Brighton and Norway and can be found swimming from the beach at Brighton and in the fjords in Norway

Pete White is a member of the OUTSIDE’s public involvement team and lives near Bristol. In this podcast episode he discusses swimming in a marine lake which is a popular swimming location for many people wanting to try dipping or swimming outside.

OUTSIDE Media update

We had some fantastic media coverage to launch the study, which ranged from featuring in on BBC Breakfast and on their website to the I, the Independent and ITV Meridian.

We have also been featured in one of the open water swimming communities magazines Outdoor Swimmer

This article features Rich. Rich took part in the first OUTSIDE study we ran a couple of years ago. Read more about his story in the next blog.

Rich’s Story

Richard Williams, 41, from Worcestershire took part in the first study at the Lenches lakes in Evesham. He said: “I was a little anxious going into the trial, because I’d never done anything like it before.

“I also felt guilty about seeking help at the time, because I felt like I was beginning to finally get my life back on track. I realised when I started the trial, that the others also had imposter syndrome, and felt like they weren’t deserving of help or needed it as much as others. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’re dealing with; if you don’t feel yourself, you should ask for support.”

For years Rich went through bouts of depression and anxiety, and turned to alcohol to find a release. In 2022, he attempted to take his own life.

“I was at a real low point in my life, and felt completely alone”, he explained.

“After hitting rock bottom I decided to reach out to the Samaritans charity and eventually felt ready to go home and work on myself. I began therapy, and that’s how I found out about the cold water immersion study.

“I was a person who could never actually go in the sea, even in the summer. But during the course and the training you learn how to get past that initial shock and enjoy the euphoric feeling of being immersed in cold water. I’ve never been able to meditate properly or relax because there’s so much going around my head, but in the water it’s just peace and you become more with nature.

“It has completely changed my life. I’m swimming twice a week, in a cold tub every day and even signed up to an Ironman! So I’ve gone from a recovering alcoholic and recluse, into firing on all cylinders now, and wanting to help others and spread the word.”

Words by Richard Williams and Robyn Montague