Return to blog

The Beginner's Guide To Cold-Water Swimming In Winter

Posted by Luke Green

Cold-water swimming has fantastic health benefits such as: boosting your immune system, improves your circulation and of course burns calories and is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the community it is creating. The beauty of cold-water swimming is that it is completely free, there's no messing around and you can take as little or as long as you would like. It is also an excellent activity that you can enjoy with friends and family (whilst of course staying socially distanced!). However, if you are looking to try this activity in the winter, there are some effects of cold water swimming and safety precautions that you should be aware of. That is why Red Original has created this beginners guide to cold water swimming…

Be Prepared Before You Leave

We love the outdoors here at Red Original and know that listening to health and safety talk isn't always the most exciting of topics, however, it is the most important. If you are a beginner it is crucial that you read up on all of the facts before swimming in the cold water. Depending on where you are planning to swim, we would highly recommend that you take a good look into tide times before you head off to the water. If you are still unsure of all of the details, then we would suggest joining a cold-water swimming group in your local area to get you started.

Make Sure You're Properly Equipped  

Having all of the correct equipment before cold-water swimming in the winter is extremely important, not only will it keep you safe, but it will also enhance your experience. There is a series of different equipment that you will need, including:

  • Swimming hat - The majority of your body heat is lost through your head, wearing a swimming hat will limit this and keep you safe. 
  • Goggles - To protect your eyes from the saltwater.
  • Cold-water swimming suits - Depending on the temperature of the water, you will require different wetsuit specifications, therefore the wetsuit that you wear in the summer will more than likely not be fit for winter. For more detail, here's a list of some of the best wetsuits for cold water swimming
  • Refreshments - Hot drinks help you warm up post swim from the inside keeping heat and energy where you need it around your vital organs. 
  • Gloves / woolly hat - Keeping warm is really important after a cold swim, gloves and woolly hats ensure that you do this gradually. 
  • Changing robes - One of the difficulties with swimming in the cold is that there are no changing robes available after you have finished. Waterproof changing robes or hooded towelling robes are ideal for changing out of wetsuits comfortably without exposing yourself and keeping warm.

What To Remember When You Are In The Water

Do not dive or jump in unless you are used to the cold water. Cold-water can cause gasping of breath and cold water shock, which can be dangerous. Instead, you should gradually ease your way into the water to avoid shock as best as you can. Also, as the temperature drops, decrease the amount of time you spend in the water. In winter, swimmers often only swim for one or two minutes at a time.

What To Remember When You Get Out Of The Water

When you get out of the water it is important that you do not have a hot shower straight away. Hot water can cool your core and it can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, wrap up well and have a hot drink. For more information on the best way of warming up after a cold water swim checkout our blog on the Art of Warming up. Once you feel warm, then you can go ahead and shower. Finally, spend the rest of the day on a high – cold water swimming can help combat depression as well as boost the immune system, circulation and even the libido.