Preparing for Outdoor Winter Swimming

Outdoor Winter SwimmingWith the clocks due to go back in just a couple of weeks’ time, there’s no doubt that we are all feeling the drop in temperatures, particularly in the mornings and evenings.  And as these air temperatures start to drop, so the temperature of the waters will drop too.  Nevertheless, there is still a huge core of people who don’t let the chilly weather get in the way of bracing and brisk outdoor swim.

This may seem a rather eccentric practice to many of us but those who enjoy outdoor swimming all year round love the satisfaction this swim brings. It’s even been proven that outdoor swimming can help to combat depression, boost the immune system, improve circulation and even help with the symptoms of menopause.  In fact, there is a group of swimmers in Wales, the Blue Tits Chill Swimmers, who actively promote outdoor swimming for women of a certain age for this very reason.

Cold Water Swimming Tips

That said, when you do go cold water swimming, there are some precautions you need to take, particularly if you’re a newbie to this exhilarating sport.

So here are some of our key tips to help you prepare for your first outdoor swim this winter:

  • As is the case in the sea and many rivers or lakes, open water is dangerous. You should only swim if you know it’s safe with easy entrance into and exit from the water.  You should never swim alone in cold, open waters.
  • You should wear appropriate swimming kit to preserve your body heat. This should include a swimming hat (and some swimmers even wear two for extra protection), neoprene gloves and boots and of course a wetsuit (which also gives you additional buoyancy in the water).
  • You should be able to wade into the water rather than jumping or diving in. This is because cold water can cause cold water shock which in turn can cause a heart attack.
  • The cold may be a shock to the system when you first hit the water but if you just keep swimming, your body will adjust and acclimatise to the temperatures.
  • Decrease the amount of time you would normally spend in the water during the cold months compared to the warmer spring and summer months.
  • Warm up gradually after your swim. Don’t go straight for a hot shower; instead wrap up in warm clothes like a dry robe or swimzi and have a hot drink first.

Our Cold Water Swimming Kit Check List

As mentioned above, appropriate swimming kit is very important to preserve your body heat during outdoor swimming.  So the team at Sharks Swim & Triathlon have come up with the following check list of products which are all available from our shop in Sketty Cross, Swansea or available to order online from

  • For the swim:
  • Swimming trunks or costume
  • Goggles
  • Swim cap (or even two)
  • Neoprene skull cap
  • Neoprene gloves
  • Neoprene booties
  • Wetsuit or skins
  • Tow float
  • After the swim:
    • Changing robe like a Dry Robe
    • Towel
    • Woolly gloves
    • Woolly hat like the Swimzi extra warm bobble hat
    • Layers, layers, layers (the best way to get warm after a cold swim)
    • Flask
    • A snack.



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