Just swimming in the pool is enough: the new wave is wild swimming, literally wild swimming, or rather swimming in open water, those of rivers and lakes scattered among forests, mountains, forests and any other natural area, and of course also those of the sea.
Now, swimming in the pool and swimming in open water is not exactly the same thing (here the differences between swimming in the pool or at the sea): Meanwhile, because the pools are also in the city while rivers, lakes and seas must go to look for where the water is bluer, then because, in addition to the intuitable technical differences, there are also psychological difficulties, such as not seeing the bottom, also because currents and winds make a swim in open water always unpredictable, and then because the first advice of any wild swimmer is never to go swimming alone in open water (unless you are Danilo Callegari engaged in crossing the ocean in his Africa Extreme 2015: here is his account of those 50 km swimming).
And yet, driven by the growing passion for triathlon (by the way: if you want to start with the triple, read here), even wild swimming is constantly on the rise: according to a survey by the Outdoor Swimming Society, the world authority in terms of outdoor swimming, more than 50% of new swimmers in open water began less than 5 years ago.
The movement is mostly born in the UK (reference sites: Outdoor Swimming Society and www.wildswimming.co.uk) with lots of races and competitions, in Italy you can refer to the NAL, sports association recognized CONI and affiliated CSI that organizes competitions and promotes the culture of swimming in open water.
What is needed for open water swimming?
Basically a swimsuit and desire to dive into the water. But, especially in the cold months, can come in handy a cap or two (most of the body heat is dispersed from the head: here you can find the guide to buying the cap to swim), a wetsuit, swimming goggles or even better a mask that covers a larger surface of the face: here 7 excellent snorkeling masks under 100 euros) and everything you need for your safety that you find here.
Where to go swimming in open water
Virtually everywhere there is an explicit ban on bathing (with the advice never to venture on your own or to have someone on the ground, and avoid the crossings until you are really experienced swimmers: here the most beautiful and difficult open water crossings in the world).
If you are looking for something really spectacular, there is also a book on the best spots for wild swimming in Italy: it’s called Wild Swimming Italy: Discover the Most Beautiful Rivers, Lakes, Waterfalls and Hot Springs of Italy, the author is Michele Tameni and you can appear here for 24 euros: it suggests wonderful places like the Emerald Pools in the Natural Park of the Friulian Dolomites or the Rio Pitrisconi in Sardinia.