6 tips for cold water swimming

What happens to your body when immersed in cold water?

© Vivienne Rickman Poole
The nights are drawing in, there’s a chill in the air and the water temperatures are heading towards single figures… what better idea than a bracing outdoor swim? While it might seem madness, winter swimming aficionados say that it’s not only fun but can help combat depression, boost the immune system, circulation and even the libido.Follow Jonathan Cowie’s tips for cold water swimming:

1. Acclimatise: As the temperature drops, just keep swimming and your body will get used to the cold.

2. Be safe: Open water can be dangerous. Only ever swim where it is safe, and make sure you can enter and exit the water quickly and easily.  Never swim on your own.

3. Wear the right kit: Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body heat.  You can also wear neoprene gloves, booties, balaclava or a wetsuit – whatever you feel comfortable with.

4. No diving: Do not dive or jump in unless you are used to the cold water.  Cold water can cause gasping of breath and cold water shock, which can be dangerous.

5. Know your limits: As the temperature drops, decrease the amount of time you spend in the water. In winter, swimmers often only swim for one or two minutes at a time.

6. Warm up slowly: Don’t have a hot shower. Hot water can cool your core and it can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, wrap up well and have a hot drink.

And finally, spend the rest of the day on a high, trying to convince your friends and family that you’re not completely nuts.

© Natasha Brooks

By Jonathan Cowie, Outdoor Swimmer Magazine.

November 2017

Jonathon Cowie