Winter Swimming – Tips for beginners.

How to swim from Autumn to Spring, acclimatizing to cold waters and the health benefits of cold water swimming.

Our founder, Will – pictured splashing into Sharrah Pool in Dartmoor earlier this month, a stunning hidden away pool of crystal clear water, accessible only by foot -,  is a keen outdoor swimming, taking the plunge into cold water and regularly free-styling his way around our local lakes near Oxford.

It can seem quite daunting if you are new to the ‘sport’ of cold water swimming; if diving into the water in summer seems like fun, and dipping toes in is as far as you’ll go in the winter!

We’ve pulled together some helpful tips for beginners to outdoor winter swimming from the Outdoor Swimming Society and some other great organisations to give you the best advice for wild swimming this Winter.

Winter Swimming – Top Tips for Beginners

  1. Start Swimming in the Autumn
  2. Wear the Correct Kit
  3. Have Dry Kit Ready
  4. Take it Easy and Know Your Limits
  5. Keep At It – Be Consistent!

1. Start Swimming in the Autumn

As the days are getting shorter, make sure you can been seen in the water – especially around dawn and dusk!

Begin to practice now! You’ll need several dips to get your body accustomed to the cooling waters. Autumn is actually a great time to start as the waters have been warmed over Summer and keep some of this warmth into late-Autumn. This is why November is such a popular time for surfers – they know their toes will be (relatively) toasty until Thanksgiving and perhaps beyond!

2. Wear the correct kit

The Swedish sport of ‘Swim Run’ keeps you warm, running in between your swims!

There’s no shame in a wetsuit! Whether you go bare skinned or not, you can help preserve body heat by wearing a swim hat (or a wooly hat!), neoprene gloves or wetsuit boots.

3. Have dry kit ready

Dry Robes, towels, coats and hot chocolate for post-swim warming up!

Have a hot drink, a thick towel and some dry clothes at the ready for when you emerge from the water. This is really important as you may take some time to warm up and getting dry is the best way to do this. Jumping up and down and shaking hands and toes out can also help to get that circulation back. Don’t jump straight in the shower as this can confuse your body into thinking you are already warm – cool down your core and diverting blood away from your vital organs, rather than help heat it up

4. Take it easy and know your limits

Some Lidos remain open during Autumn, and for Christmas Day Dips!

Only stay in for as long as you are comfortable – often in Winter this may be for one or two minutes. Don’t dive in getting your head wet, ease in and if you feel the cold easily, keep your head and hair dry. You are guaranteed to spend the rest of the day on a complete high. Enjoy the buzz!

5. Keep at it

You’ll love the rush and buzz from outdoor swimming!

The Outdoor Swimming Society recommends keeping up cold water swimming once a week, preferably twice or three times, starting off with short times in the water and gradually extending your time spent in the cold.

For more information on acclimatizing we recommend the OSS’s great guide here.

Active England Runs Summer Swimming Holidays throughout the South of England, after a Winter of cold water dipping, why not try some summer splashing in 2021!

Cornwall Wild Swimming – 6 Day Holiday

Devon Wild Swimming – 4 Day Holiday

Dorset Swimming – 3 Day Wild Swimming Weekend

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