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Five tips on staying warm whilst swimming in cold water

Swimming in the winter months is somewhat of an extreme sport – long distances become dips, and the days of spending hours in the water decreases to mere minutes. There is no magic science to staying completely warm when cold water swimming, but there are small changes you can make to your routine that will help you stay that little bit longer in the water.

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1. Stay warm before your swim

One of the best ways to stay warm in the water is simply being warm beforehand. Wearing lots of layers and taking 5 to 10 minutes beforehand to warm up with gentle exercises will prepare your body for cold water immersion.

Selkie Swim’s Unisex Sherpa (£79) is a toasty option to wear before and after your swim.

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2. Wear a wetsuit

Wetsuits are an obvious choice for keeping warm in the water, but with so many options on the market it can be hard to know exactly which one to get.

Yonda Spectre Wetsuit 2021 (£389), winner of ‘Best on Test’ and ‘Best Value’ in 220 Triathlon Magazine, is aimed at those new to open water swimming.

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3. Try out neoprene accessories

For those looking to keep their extremities warm, or have some protection if swimming in skins, neoprene accessories are a great option. Finding a pair that fits well and is liquid sealed in order to prevent water ingress can lead to longer swims and help avoid the dreaded swimmer’s claw caused by cold water.

HUUB Neoprene Gloves (£34.99) and HUUB Neoprene Swim Socks (£39.99) are both made from high grade 3mm neoprene to keep your hands and feet warm. They both also recently scored top marks in our review of neoprene accessories.

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4. Keep your head covered

The head is another area of the body which can lose a lot of heat very quickly. Swimming hats are a must in the cold weather and lots of seasoned swimmers wear two swim hats for additional heat retention.

Swim Wild and Free’s Swim Cap (£5.99) comes in five different colours for those looking to bring some brightness to their winter swims.

If you’re not planning to put your head in the water at all, bobble hats are an even warmer option. Check out Swim Secure’s Luxury Bobble Hat (£23).

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5. Invest in a pair of earplugs

Earplugs will help keep cold water out of your ears. Not only does this prevent you from cooling down as quickly, it also helps with dizziness, infections and the more rare, but serious, Swimmer’s Ear. Check out our article here on why wearing earplugs in cold water is so important.

Take a look at Swim Secure’s Shell Ear Plugs (£3.95).

With all of the above said, your time in the water during the winter months will be limited regardless. Even with all of the accessories possible, it’s important to keep your time in the water short and get out wanting more, rather than staying in past your limits.

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Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.