Swimming in a river or lake IS different. It doesn’t taste of chlorine for a start. And isn’t crowded. The water has a smooth soft quality that slides around your skin.
I only swim on hot Summer days. The water coming off the mountain tops is still much colder than you think. Even in August. But there are many places up the Duddon for a dip or a paddle – and then a leisurely recovery on a hot, flat stone. I take old sandals to paddle into the water as pebbles can be sharp under foot. Crocs or flip flops disappear surprisingly fast on the current.
Okay, you will need a wet suit and more stamina than I have: but how about attempting the Great North Swim on Windermere? This is now the UK’s biggest open water swimming festival and happens in June every year. Follow this link if you would like more details about it.