Introduction to Winter Swimming – Part 1 (Andrew)

If you want to know the first signs of hypothermia then here’s a video of me trying to eat a Twix after 90 minutes of cycling in zero degrees in just a short sleeved t-shirt. I’m wearing three layers of clothes to warm up and I still look like this:

Now, try to imagine swimming when you can’t control your body. Grim – and dangerous.

I normally stop swimming in October, once the water temperature falls below 12 degrees, and will only try a few quick dips until April. While I like the ‘shock’ of cold water I don’t like the ‘reward to travel’ ratio as it shrinks considerably in winter months. Why do I want to travel for an hour or more just to spend five minutes in the water? Instead I could walk to my bath and sit on some icecubes for five minutes and still have time to read a good book by an open fire?!?!

For anyone considering longer swims in winter than I thought it would be helpful to share a few links on how to prepare, what to expect and what to do if you get too cold – or, worse, get hypothermia and can’t eat a Twix. The links are below but if I had any tips to share these would be them:

  • Never swim alone
  • Swim for less time than you think you would comfortably manage
  • Never swim alone
  • Keep to the edge, the water will be much colder the deeper you get
  • Never swim alone
  • If in doubt, don’t get in or, if you are in, get out.
  • Never swim alone

And for more on hypothermia.

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