Ways to handle swimming in cold water
You’ll want to consider the following kit suggestions when taking your cold water swimming:
- Wear two caps – since most of the heat is lost through your head when you double your ’cap-age’, you’ll simply be retaining some heat.
- Wetsuit – perhaps you should consider taking a cold water swim in a full wetsuit. The sleeveless suits allow some heat to escape through the armpits. Other kits such as earplugs can still be worthwhile!
- Neoprene cap and socks – neoprene is a better alternative to standard latex and helps prevent you losing heat through your feet. Perhaps you’ll consider wearing some neoprene socks!
- Use a Dry Bag. The most popular item nowadays when doing any kind of water sport or activity, even lazing on the beach. Available in a range of colours, they make protecting your belongings from the wet 100% fool-proof. Reliable, tough, and protective. We recommend a Premium Ultra Dry dry bag, from 10 Litre to 30 Litre. All made from Pure Grade Y7.5mm thick 500D (Denier Density) WATERPROOF Polymer. It can also help with buoyancy.
Learn to dull the cold shock response:
- Get fat. Well, if you take a closer look at a cold water distance swimmer, you’ll see a bit of extra body weight. Of course, we’re not advocating getting fat, but a slight bit of extra body weight can help withstand cold temperatures a little longer. Consider putting on 1 or 2 kg in a healthy way, if cold water swimming is your regular thing. If it’s just a one-off swim, don’t worry so much!
- Get fit. Cold water swimming has no ‘walking up the hill’ or ‘freewheel down the hill’. Contrary to land-based endurance sport, there’s no time to rest. The moment you’re tired, cold will creep in you making it harder to keep going in each second that passes. Hence, you’ll need to be fit. You’ll be more prepared to swim harder and faster reducing the time spent in the water.
- Get freezing. It’s important to carry out your training in cold water. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a big shock if all you’re used to is a warm swimming pool. You’ll need to work out your own compensation techniques. You’ll be amazed at how your body will adapt to the cold after some time.
- Focus and familiarise. The main adaptation to the cold is in the mind. Apart from the physical aspect, a degree of the pain of getting into cold water e.g. numbness, screaming headache, uncontrolled finger separation, and the chattering jaw) can often be in the mind (mentally calming down and focussing helps!) They’re actually brain alarms trying to communicate that you’re in a bad place. However, if you’re able to train regularly in this condition while focusing on the changes in your body, you’ll become familiar with it. You’ll be training the mind to accept the changes taking place without much alarm. This mental wall will not allow cold water through. If you lack the convenience of an ocean or river at your doorstep, don’t panic, you can still condition yourself with an ‘ice bath’.
The UltraDry Team.