I was recently asked what my secret is for swimming in Winter. I don’t think their is any secret to it – I try to be consistent, I make sure I have the correct clothes and I accept the fact it’s going to be cold!
I’ve got better at handling the cold by being consistent with my swimming. Over a number of years I pushed cold boundary. When I started I only swam outdoors May to September. The next year I tried starting in April and finishing in October. Now I swim all year round.
I enjoy swimming skins. I’d like to swim skins in winter but I’ve tried it and I struggle with the after effects of the cold. I could keep at it but I’d rather enjoy a swim than endure it. Don’t let you ego determine your clothing! Use common sense and wear as much as you need to feel warm.
My winter kit (to wear with a wetsuit) is:
- Vest – If I protect my chest from the cold then I cam cope with cold water. If you suffer from cold hands or feet I’d definitely recommend looking at vests before gloves or socks. A warm core will keep your extremities warm. I use a lomo vest https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lomo-3mm-Neoprene-Suit-Vest
- Gloves – I’ve tried loads of brands but these are easily the best ones I’ve tried. They are thick enough to keep the cold from my hands and retain heat. https://www.wiggle.co.uk/zone3-neoprene-heat-tech-gloves
- Socks – I’ve never found socks make a difference to how cold/warm my feet feel but I wear them for the psychological boost of having them on. They make me think my feet will be warm. https://www.wiggle.co.uk/zone3-neoprene-swimming-socks
- Boots – I use boots to walk into and out of the water from my car and they provide an extra layer of warmth for my feet. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lomo-Wetsuit-Booties-3mm-Size
- Hood – This stops water from running down my back. The downside is that I can’t hear a thing whilst wearing it! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Huub-Thermal-Balaclava-Swimming-Triathlon
I was wearing all this kit when I recently visited Carron Valley Reservoir. My aim in winter is to try to do at least 10 minutes. It was hard to stay in for that long due to a strong wind the water was very choppy and difficult to swim in.
I tried my best to get some swimming in but I was happy to stop when my stop watch said my time was up.
Ease of Access: https://goo.gl/maps/vkcjfRm5cx6dYWt7A Park at the gate next to the loch. Its 10m to the waterside.
Water quality: The water level was very high. Normally there is a rocky “beach” but it was completely covered by water. The tree were I normally leave my stuff was half submerged by water.
Swim Quality: Hard work. The waves and a low sun made it very tricky to sight to swim in a straight line.
Other People: Not a soul.
Would I go back: Yes. It’s my default swim location.