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Training advice

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Date: Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 December 2016


Welcome to the world of cold water swimming! 

Winter swimming communities famously thrive in northern European countries where an icy dip can be followed by a toasty sauna. There are many theories on the benefits of cold water swimming, amongst these are that it's addictive, gives an amazing sense of well-being and generally feeling 'alive'. What are you waiting for?


Tip on becoming a cold water swimmer

    1. 1. Authentic cold water swimmers around the world wear a regular swimming costume, a silicone swim hat and goggles. Don't even think about wearing a wetsuit as this defeats the concept and benefits of feeling the cold water on your body!


    1. 2. Most people stop swimming outdoors when it gets to October, but a cold water swimmer keep swimming throughout the year and just reduce the distance and time in the water. Your body will continue to acclimatise as the temp drops.


    1. 3. Find a safe place where you can swim, ideally somewhere where you can park nearby or can use a changing room or sheltered area for changing.


  1. 4. Find some others to dip with you, to make sure you are safe during and after swimming, and stay within your depth on your first cold water dip.


    1. 5.  Swim safe. Swimmers need to be easily seen by boats in open water so at the very least avoid swimming in busy areas for boats, jet skis and ferries. It is also a swimmer’s responsibility to make yourself as visible as possible to other open water users: always wear a brightly coloured swimhat; consider buying a coloured swim tow-float (available from Chillswim online shop);  in dull or foggy conditions, or at night, attach swim lights or light sticks to the back of your goggles or swim costume.


    1. 6. If you can't swim regularly in cold water then try cold water showers and baths in the build-up to your swim.


    1. 7. A thermometer is not essential, but can be helpful and interesting to monitor the changing seasons. Keep a check on how long you swim for as the temperature drops and starts to rise again approaching the summer. You soon learn your limits and how much you should do each time.


    1. 8. Don't try to be a hero in cold water, know your limitations, and get out as soon as you feel your body moving more slowly or if your hands start to become stiff. Try just a few minutes the first time. Breath slowly and calmly. Keep your head above water until you are comfortable putting your face in. If you begin to feel warm in cold water, you are experiencing the dangerous first stage of hypothermia so get out of the water immediately (see link below for a full definition).


  1. 9. When you exit the water, put on a hat, and get fully dressed immediately. Your body temperature will continue to drop for a few minutes after getting out of the water, so don't delay! Merino wool clothing and down jackets are much warmer than synthetic equivalents. There's plenty of time to chat afterwards with your friends whilst having a warm drink. Do not warm up the body suddenly with a hot shower or bath, gradual warmth with layers is much safer and more effective.


  1. 10. Hypothermia can be fatal, please see links below for more information:



Less confident or new winter swimmers may find this video useful: