Since our winter swim sessions are we thought these Top 10 Winter Swimming tips from H20pen Magazine would be useful:
It’s autumn. The leaves are starting to turn. The water temperature at your local open water swimming spot is starting to get a bit chilly. You are probably considering heading off to your nearest leisure centre to the luxury of a heated indoor pool.
But wait. You’re an open water swimmer. Just because the water is getting colder doesn’t mean you have to stop swimming outdoors. Make this the year you swim through all the seasons.
Why do it? In the depths of winter plunging into cold water gives you a real buzz. It connects you with nature. And it is reputed to have real health benefits: improving your circulation and immune system. Also, watching people shiver so much they can’t drink a cup of tea is very funny, especially when it is you doing the shivering. Welcome to the world of winter swimming. Follow our top tips on how to acclimatise and swim safely in cold water.
Just keep swimming. Your body needs to acclimatise to cold temperatures. If possible, just keep swimming as the temperature drops, reducing your distance as the temperature gets colder. My first ever cold swim lasted about two seconds, but I was soon able to up my distances by swimming in the cold regularly. The more frequently you swim the quicker you will acclimatise as your body learns to adapt to the cold.
Stay safe. Open water can be dangerous. Do not swim in adverse conditions. Know your exit points and never swim alone.
Learn to recognise the signs of hypothermia. If you feel disorientated or stop feeling cold, get out of the water immediately.
Wear a swimming cap. In fact, wear two. It will help preserve body heat and prevent brain freeze.
Remember to breathe. Cold water shock causes hyperventilation. Enter the water slowly and breathe normally. Only dive in if you are used to the cold.
Know your limits. Cold water can be dangerous. Once you are acclimatised you can gradually increase the time you spend in the water. Everyone is different – just because your friend can do an ice mile doesn’t mean that you can or have to.
Do not have a hot shower. Warming up too quickly after being exposed to the cold can take heat away from your core, leading to collapse.
Warm up gently. Get dried and dressed immediately and make sure you have plenty of warm layers and a woolly hat. A warm drink and a slice of cake will speed up the recovery process.
Shivering is good – it means your body is working to warm yourself up.