Immersing yourself in cold water (which could be defined as UK water temperatures for most of the year, not just winter) carries risk. Here’s what they are. One of the most surprising things about temperature is how fast swimmers adapt to it – or make room for enjoying it despite that fact it feels cold. We find it takes about 3 years for swimmers to go from thinking all UK water is chilly, even in summer, to wanting to swim in winter just for the experience.
As a general rule, get expert medical advice before winter swimming if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, asthma, or are pregnant. Swim sober, and avoid cold water if you have a hangover. However, thousands of people swim outdoors safely every year, and even more survive festive dips – one off jumps into the water – with mountainous goosebumps to show for it. If you’re otherwise fit and healthy and work on understanding how your body reacts to cold water you can mitigate the risks.