Is Ice Swimming for Me?

This week sees the start of the International Ice Swimming Association’s 4th World Championships in Glogow, Poland. We send our very best wishes to everyone competing in this most extreme sport!

What is ice swimming and why do people take the plunge?

The term ice swimming was first coined in 2009 and involves swimming in water temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or 41 degrees Fahrenheit, unassisted, with a swimming silicon cap, goggles and standard swimming costume. 

That’s not to say that swimmers can’t make the most of pre and post swim apparel - many ice swimmers rely on our sports cloaks to keep them warm and cosy during these times. Several British ice swimmers will be competing in Glogow later this week and we wish them all the very best and know their Charlie McLeod cloaks will help them through the physical challenge they are about to endure.

Ice swimming is an extreme sport but brings significant health and mental benefits.  There’s the well-documented endorphin rush, that post-exercise “high”; as well as a surge in serotonin – the happy hormone that balances mood; dopamine which controls the brain’s pleasure centre and a dose of “love hormone”, oxytocin, too.  Many report better circulation, reduced stress as well as benefits for the immune system.

Ice swimming isn’t without risk though so you should never try ice swimming alone and it is advised to talk to your doctor before taking your first dip.  Once swimming, you should be prepared in case of an emergency and look out for signs of:


  • Hyperventilation: beginning to breathe at an abnormally rapid rate.
  • Hypothermia: when a lower body temperature than normal results in shivering, slowed breathing and drowsiness.
  • The after drop: when body temperatures drop suddenly, 5 to 10 minutes after getting out of the water.

At Charlie McLeod, we have a range of pre and post apparel, including sports cloaks, onesies and beanies, to keep ice swimmers safe, dry and to make sure the experience is as rewarding as the exercise itself. 

Fancy something even more extreme? The Merthyr Mermaid, Cath Pendleton, our very own brand ambassador, is planning an ice dive and she’ll be sharing her experiences with us on our blog.

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