Whether you’re swimming in a pool, lake or the sea there are many benefits to continuing to swim outside during the winter months. Fitness, resilience and the wellbeing and mood boosting impact of winter swimming are just a few of the advantages of getting into the water at this time of year. However, if you want to ensure that you get the most from swimming in the winter then it’s important to make sure you do it safely. These are our top tips for swimming throughout the winter this year.
- Get the kit that works for you. Some people choose to swim in swimwear all year round others opt for a wetsuit when the temperature starts to drop. Work out where your body most feels the cold and consider some extra protection there - that could be wetsuit boots for your feet, a hat or neoprene gloves, all of which can help you to retain body heat.
- Give yourself time to get used to it. Cold water swimming is a shock the first time but the secret is simply to carry on. Start with just a short period of time in the water and then build up from there as your body and mind begin to get more used to the experience.
- Don’t jump in. The shock of cold water can be dangerous if you just hurl yourself in. Instead of doing this and ending up gasping or choking just get into the water gradually instead.
- Choose your location carefully. If you’re planning to swim in open water then make sure you’re well aware of all the risks involved, including shipping traffic and rip tides. Don’t swim on your own and consider taking a tow float and wearing a bright hat so that you can always be seen in the water.
- Don’t force yourself to stay in for too long. In the summer we can stay in the water for a long time but that’s not the case in winter. In fact, many winter swimmers only dip into the water for a couple of minutes. You can still get the benefits of the cold water from this kind of short experience. Make sure you don’t push your body too far where the cold is concerned.
- Don’t have a hot shower. Hot water on a cold body can be dangerous so avoid a hot shower and let yourself warm up gradually instead. This means plenty of hot drinks and warm clothes. Many people invest in a changing robe for winter swimming - these have weather protection on the outside and are warm towelling on the inside. They can make getting warm and cosy again after your swim much easier to do.
Winter swimming has a lot of positive health benefits and can make you feel fantastic. It’s important to make sure that you choose where to swim wisely and that you’re prepared for the impact of the cold if you want to get the most from the experience.