Keep On Open Water Swimming

With snow on the mountain tops, ice on car windscreens and a chill in the air it's all too easy to stop open water swimming.

True the water is colder, but compared to the air temperature, it's relatively warm.  Here are a few tips.

1. Swim well away from the mouth of rivers or large streams.  Rivers, swollen by rain and snow-melt, are much colder than the sea.

Where they meet the sea, and within quite a few hundred meters, they put a layer of cold, fresh water on the surface.  As soon as you go in you can tell because the sea suddenly tastes a lot less salty than normal.

2.  Try not to swim in rain - it makes the water colder.  It's much nicer to swim on sunny days - see below.

3. Wear the right kit.  At the moment I swim in; Zone3 neoprene shorts; Zone 3 neoprene vest; Gul thermal rash vest; Orca Hydro booties; Zone 3 thermal booties on top; Lomo thermal swim gloves; Aquasphere balaclava; BlueSeventy neoprene cap; BlueSeventy Reaction wetsuit and goggles.  I always use ear plugs.

4. The shivers can start when once out of the water and the cold water is still trapped in the neoprene layers.

Keep the neoprene hat on until you can replace it with a warm woollen hat, then get something like the excellent DryRobe over everything.  With these and a warm drink to hand, we find we quickly recover.

5.  Keep swimming.  Even if it's just a short dip, the best way to tolerate cold water is to keep tolerating it.  It really does get better.


Steve said...

Item 4. Wouldn't a wooden hat be uncomfortable? :)

Simon Willis said...

Absolutely essential for floatation. Well spotted!!! Changed, thank you. Gave me a laugh.