6 Tips for Cold Water Swimming

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There’s a chill in the air and the water temperatures are in single figures... what better idea than a bracing outdoor swim? While it might seem madness, winter swimming aficionados say that it’s not only fun but can help combat depression, boost the immune system, circulation and even the libido.

Follow our tips for cold water swimming and check out our gear guide for all the kit you need to safely thrill to the chill.

1. Acclimatise

As the temperature drops, just keep swimming and your body will get used to the cold.

2. Be safe

Open water can be dangerous. Only ever swim where it is safe, and make sure you can enter and exit the water quickly and easily. Never swim on your own.

3. Wear the right kit

Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body heat. You can also wear neoprene gloves, booties, balaclava or a wetsuit – whatever you feel comfortable with.

4. No diving

Do not dive or jump in unless you are used to the cold water. Cold water can cause gasping of breath and cold water shock, which can be dangerous.

5. Know your limits

As the temperature drops, decrease the amount of time you spend in the water. In winter, swimmers often only swim for one or two minutes at a time.

6. Warm up slowly

Don’t have a hot shower. Hot water can cool your core and it can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, wrap up well and have a hot drink.

Finally, spend the rest of the day on a high, trying to convince your friends and family that you’re not completely nuts.

Winter Swimming Kit Checklist

• Swimming trunks or costume (optional, depending on location)

• Goggles

• Two silicone hats (make sure the top hat features an impressive swim so everyone knows you are a serious swimmer!)

• Neoprene gloves

• Neoprene booties

• Neoprene hat

• Wetsuit (suit or skins, wear whatever you feel comfortable in)

• Tow float

• Changing robe

• Towel

• Flip flops or Crocs

• Woolly gloves

• Woolly hat

• Layers, layers, layers (the best way to get warm after a cold swim)

• Flask

• Cake

Watch our cold water swimming video.

01 Cover April

Issue 37 April 2020

  • The Vicar of Dipping: Spirituality, connectedness and the instant hit of wild swimming with the Reverend Kate Bottley
  • Swimming to Recovery: How open water swimming helped Simon Harmer recover from losing both his legs in Afghanistan
  • Adventures in Winter Swimming: What happened when Olympian Keri-anne Payne tried cold water swimming?
  • The Return of the Fish Hawk: Swimming and nature
  • How to Swim Faster: Training ideas to pick up your pace

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