To those who haven’t pushed through the initial shock and experienced the range of fantastic benefits associated with cold water swimming, it can seem a rather odd pursuit. Willingly heading outdoors on a cold morning can be challenging enough, let alone jumping into a chilly lake or seafront. Yet, despite this, cold water swimming has, alongside wild swimming, become an immensely popular endeavour, with individuals and groups across the world giddily submerging themselves throughout the winter season.
The reason for this popularity certainly isn’t any form of madness. There is a great pleasure that comes from cold water swimming, much of which is drawn from the associated health benefits. Many cold water swimmers find that the activity improves their tolerance to stress, for example. When first stepping into the water, blood is pumped quickly around the body and breathing increases dramatically. Once acclimatised, however, the body relaxes. By repeating this process regularly, cold water swimmers improve their stress levels and report better stress management overall.
Others simply enjoy the thrill of low temperatures, finding their worries being forced out by the adrenaline of a cold water dip or their pride being boosted by the accomplishment of overcoming environmental challenges.
These benefits, however, should not see beginners simply leaping into their favourite local river as newcomers need to understand a few basic fundamentals, as well as equip themselves with a few accessories, before they get started.
It is important that, when first starting out, individuals expose themselves to the water incrementally. This means dipping in only for a few minutes each time and then slowly extending this period of time as the activity progresses. Some cold water swimmers even recommend beginning your journey during summer and then acclimatising to the changes in temperature as they occur across the season.
Prepare To Warm Up
A significant part, and an enjoyable part, of cold water swimming is warming up and drying off once out of the water. It’s often not enough to simply bring along a towel and, instead, swimmers should ensure they stay warm out of the water with high-quality changing robes and hot drinks. These extra assets can make all the difference, especially when the climate is just as cold out of the water as in it.
It’s also a good idea to invest in gloves and shoes for paddling, and a brightly coloured, insulated hat too.
Wild swimming is much more enjoyable as a group and heading out to the water with friends can be a fun way to keep the activity during the most challenging periods of winter. Being social when cold water swimming also has its safety benefits too, since there is always an element of risk when exposing oneself to low temperatures.
Having other swimmers around to keep an eye on you in the water is useful and can also help when getting back onto dry land too. On the coldest days of the year, even confident cold water swimmers are unlikely to head out alone.