The nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and the water temperatures are heading towards 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.
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)
• 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
• Flip flops or Crocs
• Woolly gloves
• Woolly hat
• Layers, layers, layers (the best way to get warm after a cold swim)