Despite cold water swimming being challenging to most people especially those who are not well acquainted with the activity, it comes with distinct advantages. In most cases, it takes place during winter or when a pool, pond or lake is at its coldest. One of the benefits is that it boosts the production of endorphins by the brain. Endorphins help the body to cope up with pain and hence make you feel elated about various activities. Whenever you swim in cold water, your body fights back by pumping blood faster so as to keep everything warm, helping you to burn more calories compared to swimming in more temperate conditions. In fact, cold water swimmers are usually thin because they are able to keep fit through this activity.
Cold water swimming can cause adverse effects including uncomfortable feelings and that’s why this post has compiled some tips to help you swim in such conditions.
The first step is acclimatizing. Before you go swimming outdoors, try indoor training. You can start off by swimming once in a week and gradually extend the time you stay in the water to two or three times as time goes by. You could also consider trying to start during summer when the water is around 16 degrees and above and continue to swim as the temperatures drop. Don’t train or swim alone. Find a partner or join a local triathlon club so that you train together.
At first, swimming in cold water can be a shock to your system leading to a panicky feeling or even hyperventilating. However, with enough practice, you should be able to relax into your swim. All you need is to start swimming at a slower pace until you catch your breath.
One of the greatest challenges that most newbies face is dealing with first jump cold water shock. This shock refers to the effect of the cold water on your breathing and lasts for about one minute after you enter into the water. When your skin cools rapidly, there occurs an automatic gasp reflex which may lead to breathing water into the lungs, thereby causing drowning. To minimize this shock, you can immerse yourself in the water slowly, or start by splashing some cold water on your face for around ten to fifteen seconds to allow your body to cool down and adapt to the cold temperatures. You should feel more comfortable when you start swimming soon afterwards since settling any remaining nerves becomes easy as you exhale smoothly into the water.
To participate in cool water swimming, you need to have a full body swim suit also called UV swimsuits or for colder water you may need a rubber or neoprene swim cap and wetsuit. The advantage of wearing a wetsuit is that it traps a relatively thin layer of water between you and the gear, enabling your body to warm up the cold water thereby keeping you warm. To increase the functionality of your wetsuit, ensure that it is fitting, has no holes, and that the zips are working smoothly. It should also not have baggy or free areas that can let in cold water. For added warmth, you can ponder adding a larger swimskin on top of your wetsuit.
The other swim gear you can consider including is the webbed swim gloves to help you preserve hand dexterity through resistance training, earplugs, swim hood and socks to minimize water entry as you explore the waters. And of course, you wouldn't want to leave out your goggles.When doing your practice, remember to train with your gear on so that you get comfortable with it in advance. You may feel uneasy at first, but you don’t want to deal with the cold water and a miserable gear once you set out on the open water.
Before you enter the water, do a warm up. Regular stretches come in handy in elevating your pulse. You could also jog for a few minutes or jump and down as long as the activities you choose to do are good for a warm up. Remember that you will feel cold when swimming in cold water at first, but it will get better once you swim for a few minutes. If you feel frigid, don’t waste any time. Exit the water. Whenever you finish your swimming session, get out of the water quickly, change into warm clothes and start a warm up process immediately.