With the water temperatures starting to drop we thought now is a good time to help those entering cooler waters for the first time by providing you with a few handy tips to make your experience more enjoyable and recovery safer.
Our full winter swimming advice and some ice mile stories can be found on our winter website www.iceswimming.co.uk which we’re currently updating to include more of the amazing winter swimming venues and qualified coaches, where you can enjoy a safe chilly dip.
First things first, winter swimming shouldn’t be taken lightly, the cold water saps your strength much faster than you would expect. Temperatures below 10 degrees deserve respect and a gradual acclimatisation process is essential. Ideally you should have been swimming throughout the summer without a wetsuit and working slowly down the temperature scale as it drops, alternatively, keep your wetsuit on, find a thicker neoprene hat, and have fun with like minded friends.
Your swimming time, and distance covered in cold water may also drop, this is normal. Clawed fingers and the inability to turn your arms over, speak or make any sense whatsoever are all good signs you’ve been in for to long, you should have finished your swim long before you get to this stage. Keeping your swim fitness up in a pool over winter will maintain your overall fitness level and help you achieve your distance in cold water.
Find a winter swim club to join with experienced open water swimmers to swim with, they’re usually friendly and you’ll be welcomed with a shiver and lots of giggles. Their experience is well worth a few minutes of your time, learn from their adventures, it may make your journey more enjoyable.
Never swim alone in open water, especially cold water over winter. If you are in open water make sure its safe to do so and you have permission, there may be hidden dangers that won’t be obvious.
Check that you have a safe entry to the water and plan your exit, swimming your normal route in the summer will be a lot different in the winter, so make sure you can get out easily if you start to feel the cold.
Be bright be seen, wear a bright coloured swim cap and avoid areas where there is boat traffic. Ear plugs are essential, they will keep the cold water out of your inner ear and reduce the imbalance you experience when exiting the water.
After your swim –
You may be tempted to drop into a nice hot shower after your cold water swim, we don’t recommend it, warm up gradually and naturally, it’s safer and will reduce the stress on your vascular system. Slow and steady is best. Don’t be tempted to run around, jump in a sauna, immerse yourself in a hot tub or sit in your car with the heaters on full, warm up slowly and steadily from the inside, stay out of the wind and dry off as quickly as possible.
Warm loose fitting clothes are essential, lots of layers. if possible lay them out in the order that you’ll put them back on, its much easier when you are cold to have everything laid out ready. Cold skin and jeans don’t mix well.
Nice warm woollen hats to retain heat and help in your recovery.
Warm drinks are essential, hot chocolate, warm ribena or soup are all good recovery drinks. Try and avoid tea and coffee unless its decaffeinated. Get a flask with a straw, trust us, you won’t regret it.
Essential after swim recovery foods. If you’re on a diet reconsider winter swimming now, it’s not for you.
If you’re looking to join a group and having problems finding winter swimmers to swim with drop us a line and we will put you in touch with winter swimmers in your area.
Most of all have fun and stay safe.