Are you looking to do some cold water swimming?
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It can build muscle strength and endurance, improve your heart rate, reduce stress, and help you maintain a healthy weight. Swimming in cold water is even better for you, as it boosts your immune system, improves your circulation, burns more calories, gives you endorphins, and even increases your libido.
But, when swimming in cold water, you still want to be comfortable.
Check out this guide to discover the top cold water swimming tips to help you stay warm.
Understand the Risks
Before you go cold water swimming, it’s important that you understand the risks. Here’s what you need to be aware of:
Cold Water Shock
If you’re new to cold water swimming, one of the biggest things you need to worry about is cold water shock. When the body experiences a rapid change in skin temperature, it goes into a bit of a shock, causing shortness of breath, an increased breathing rate, and increased blood pressure.
Typically, this lasts for about two minutes, and then your body starts to adapt. However, in rare cases, cold water shock can be deadly. It’s more likely to be fatal when you have a sharp intake of breath underwater, or if you suffer from hypertension or an underlying heart condition.
This is why it’s so important to enter the water slowly and wait to dunk your head until your breathing is under control.
Another danger that comes with cold water swimming is swim failure. When your body enters cold water, it restricts blood flow to your limbs in order to protect your vital organs.
If the blood flow restriction reaches extreme levels, then you may have trouble getting your arms and legs to function, and you won’t be able to swim. If you feel yourself slowing down or struggling to swim, get out of the water.
Also, make sure you know your limits. If it’s your first time cold water swimming, don’t try to swim out to the middle of the lake. Instead, swim near the shoreline so you can easily get out of the water if you need to.
Hypothermia is another major risk that comes with cold water swimming. A sudden drop in your core body temperature can lead to heart failure and loss of consciousness.
How long you can swim in cold water before experiencing hypothermia depends on your body size, the water temperature, and other factors. To learn what your limits are, start with short swims. If you start to shiver or your stroke rate becomes slower, get out of the water.
After drop is another risk you have to worry about when cold water swimming; however, this happens when you get out of the water.
When you exit the water, the cold blood in your extremities starts to circulate through the rest of your body. This lowers your core temperature, which is why you may start shivering when you get out. To prevent this from happening, change into some warm, dry clothes immediately after your swim.
Avoid taking a hot shower, as this can be too dramatic of a shift from cold to warm. If you’re still feeling cold after dressing, you can sip on some hot tea.
Know What to Wear
Wearing the right gear when cold water swimming can make all of the difference when it comes to how warm your body stays. Here’s what you need to wear for your swim:
A wetsuit covers the entirety of your body save for your hands, feet, and head. While you can find wetsuits with short sleeves and shorts, it’s best to wear a wetsuit that covers everything. This type of suit is known as a full suit.
Check out these body glove wetsuits to learn more.
Neoprene Cap, Booties, and Gloves
Neoprene is a type of rubber that has good chemical stability and can maintain flexibility over a wide range of temperatures. When cold water swimming, you should wear a neoprene cap, neoprene booties, and neoprene gloves.
Since you lose most of your heat through your head when swimming, it’s a good idea to wear two caps. It’s also a good idea to put earplugs in, as these will help keep your core temperature warm.
Goggles and Swimsuit
Even though your wetsuit covers your entire body, you should still wear a swimsuit underneath it. You can use the same goggles for cold water swimming that you would for pool swimming. Just do a test run before you start your swim to make sure they don’t let in any water.
After Swimming Clothes
You should have your clothes laid out right next to the spot where you plan to end your swim, as you’ll want to change as soon as possible.
You should lay out a changing robe, towel, wool hat, wool gloves, and plenty of layers. It’s also a good idea to have a thermos filled with warm water or tea waiting for you.
Before you jump in the water, it’s important that you do a proper warm-up on dry land. Warming up will help loosen and warm your muscles so they’re ready for the cold water and ready to exercise.
We recommend doing some walking lunges, arm circles, high knees, butt kicks, and toe touches before getting in the water.
Are You Ready to Try Cold Water Swimming?
Now that you’ve read this guide, it’s time to give cold water swimming a try. Pretty soon, you’ll be reaping all of the benefits that this sport has to offer.
Be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related news and tips.