Published on December 15, 2017 Comment(s): 0
People with heart conditions or asthma are warned not to attempt winter swimming.
Every winter, people who have enjoyed outdoor summer swimming often push themselves further and try to continue through the colder, darker months. Cold-water swimming, or winter swimming as it is also known as is said to be a refreshing, life-affirming and exhilarating experience. Winter swimming in Britain is safe, as long as you take a few basic precautions. If you have already taken the plunge or are considering whether to embark on a winter season, we have compiled some precautions and top tips you will need to consider before starting your cold-water swimming experience:
What to wear?
Since September the sea’s temperatures have been dropping and they will be at its coldest in April. You can choose to wear either a wet suit or swimsuit. You should wear a swimming hat, or even two, to help preserve body heat. There is also a choice to wear wetsuit gloves and booties to help protect your extremities, but this is dependent on what you feel comfortable with.
Open water swimming can be dangerous. The sea can often be much rougher in winter, so be sensible about where you swim. We recommend you do a bit of homework before you go about where is safe to swim, there are also a lot of good videos online explaining what a rip tide is and what it looks like. Make sure you never go out of your depth, always ensure you are somewhere that you can get in and out of easily. Also, it is always a good idea to have someone keeping an eye on you or that can swim with you just in case anything goes wrong.
Firstly, do not dive or jump in unless you are used to the cold water. This is because cold water can cause gasping of breath and cold-water shock, both can be dangerous. For beginners, the best thing to do here is to break it down into 5 stages. First, start by going in up to your knees. Then, wait a few seconds before you wade out to your middle. At this point it is important to check that you feel comfortable and that the water is calm. Next, slide out so the water is over your chest, give you heart a couple of seconds and beats to adjust. Now you are ready to dive in! Not everybody comfortable with going underwater so it is up to you if you do so. Once you’re in, don’t feel pressured to swim far, this is all about relaxing not burning calories.
Acclimatise & Know Your Limits
As temperatures drop, just keep swimming and your body will get use to the cold. But, listen to your body, unless you swim everyday there won’t be a chance for you to build up a resistance to the cold. It is normal that after a few seconds in the water your arms and legs start to tingle as well as your fingers and toes starting to go pale and numb. As temperatures drop you should decrease the amount of time you spend in the water, swimmers often only swim for one or two minutes at a time. If you do have any concerns, talk to your GP beforehand.
When you get out, the rush of adrenaline will make you feel warm, but you should immediately strip off, rub yourself down and get as dry as you can before the shivering starts. Our quick dry microfibre towels are a kit bag essential, the highly absorbent material will have you dry in seconds.
If possible, you should get under a warm shower, but it is important that you do not heat your body up fast, hot water can cool your core, and this can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, so you can layer up. Our sports cloaks and long sleeve sports cloaks are perfect for this. They are perfect for changing water-side and help you stay warm and dry.
Congratulations! You’ve done it! Now its time to pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy whilst you take I the views and celebrate your bravery.