49-year-old personal trainer Lisa Peake wades into muddy waters for a bracing swim to hold her spirits up, undeterred by London's cold and heavy winter mornings. 

She is in good company: the spike in the number of outdoor swimmers this year was so great that in the summer the Outdoor Swimming Society took its digital map offline to reduce overcrowding at common locations, and since then the map has not returned.


"Swimming in cold water gives you a sense of your own mortality, of your own life, and of how special it is to see the sunrise coming out of the water while you are in it," 

said Lisa. 

"But swimming is just part of our daily lives for most of us, and it's just something that you do to get yourself through the winter."


At this time of year, since taking up the sport four years ago in Tooting Bec Lido, Lisa is no stranger to outdoor swimming, but when the coronavirus restrictions struck, she wanted, in part, a new normal to encourage healthy mental wellbeing. 

The personal trainer said, "It is the camaraderie of being around people and being outside if you're surrounded by nature. 


“The blues and greens and the rustling leaves have been known to have a strong impact on your mood. But it's cold water as well! I wish that they would prescribe it”


But this is not the only explanation for this year's periodic winter dip for Lisa. 

In July 2011, she became part of a relay team that would swim the channel in support of three charities, Mind, Diabetes UK and the National Brain Appeal. 


"She said: "I need to keep up the acclimatisation of my cold water. 


"You're not just swimming up and down outside. You have tides and waves and splashes and stuff in the water that you need to stop. 

“To fit in with the elements, your body must work harder." Said by Lisa


Other outdoor activities such as mountain biking at Teddington lock and ham common have seen a huge increase in visits over the COVID period. With more time on people’s hands and a greater willingness to get out and about, people are beginning to value this kind of activity again. Running in the Richmond upon Thames area has also seen a rise with lots of online challenges being shared. It seems COVID has reignited a love of the outdoors in south west london.