Throughout April, traditionally we hear the drip, drip, drop of little showers pattering around us and apprehend that we will be trapped indoors by our chaotic weather systems. Except this April, we have had an abundance of sunny days and slightly hotter temperatures. Perhaps it would heat up the water in Bardowie?
Last week the water temperature was recorded at 9.4 °C, which is not quite the European summer air that we have been experiencing recently. We all get a bit excited when the weather turns around however I suggest that we adopt a boy-scout mantra. We must be prepared for the coldness of the water as we enter into the first open water event of the season.
When you experience cold water for the first time, it may come as a shock. The best thing to do is to practice swimming in colder temperatures. It is unwise to sign up to an open water swim event if you have never swum in cold water before. It is true that endorphins and adrenalin kick in whilst you are in the water that awakens your body that will create an unforgettable experience. However, train sensibly and practice acclimatising to get the most out of your event.
We have some handy tips and tricks to help you approach colder water temperatures:
Stay dressed until you are ready to get into the water. In the winter months the ground temperature is colder than the water so it is best to wear flip-flops or sandals (the weather in Scotland is temperamental and it is best to be prepared for all types of conditions). If you have cold feet it will shorten your ability to stay in the water and we all know how unpleasant cold feet are.
When you are looking after your feet, remember to keep your hands warm. People underestimate the amount of heat that is lost from the hands.
Some athletes have been known to take cold showers in the lead up to their events. Alternating between hot and cold helps the body strengthen itself against the shock of first entering into cold water. Build yourself up and try giving it a go before your next open water training session.
When you first go to the water’s edge, walk slowly into it rather than jumping or diving in.
When you are about waist deep, splash cold water onto your face to acclimatize to the water. Too much cold water, too soon on your face can cause a headache and no one wants to have an ‘ice cream’ head when they swim.
If you are swimming in a season where the water temperatures are colder wear a full body wetsuit rather than a sleeveless suit (you can loose heat through your armpits.
Open water swimming is invigorating and each weekend aim to build up your tolerance to the water. Be prepared and enjoy the water.