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SwimTrek News

An Introduction to Cold Water

By Jack Hudson , 19 October, 2020

Cold water is addictive. Once you catch the bug, warm chlorine won’t ever feel the same again…


We hear endless stories about the transformative power of cold water. It gives us ways to escape bouts of depression, strengthen the immune system, encourage creativity, improve circulation and even to improve the libido. A few of our UK SwimTrek Holidays will whisk you off to the colder climes of Scotland and northern England. Lower temperatures shouldn’t unsettle us. In fact, there are many benefits if we learn to embrace the lesser degrees. And so, here’s a few simple steps to help you happily into the water when others might be wrapping up and looking on in disbelief:

SwimTrek - Cold Water Jump

1. Don’t Rush

Go slowly. Acclimatise carefully. Your breathing is key to staying calm. Take time to steady your intake when you hit the water. Swim breaststroke at first. As you swim your body will adapt as the initial shock subsides.

2. Listen to Other Swimmers

Unless you’re very experienced, don’t go it alone. Swim only where you know it’s safe. Take support. A kayaker or boat is essential company in deeper water. Local knowledge is also invaluable. You need to know where you're swimming, with a clear, quick and easy exit in mind before you enter the water.

3. Keep the Kit

Keep the neoprene for as long as you need it. Wetsuits are great for easing into the cold. Then you can lose your kit slowly. Many seasoned swimmers still wear gloves and booties, even if they’re going skins. Colder temperatures always require a swim hat too, preserving heat and preventing brain freeze. Listen to your body and, again, don’t rush. You will build confidence and endurance over time.

4. Plan Your Immersion

Don’t dive and try to frantically battle the cold. Diving isn’t wise, unless you’re Lewis Pugh. Cold water shock can lead to gasping and a sharp intake of water. Take it slowly. Your blood will rush to your core. As long as you train consciously and go through the motions steadily, your body shouldn’t throw up any surprises.

5. Know Your Ritual

When temperatures sink you’ll naturally need to spend less time in the water. Be aware of how cold you’ve acclimatised to before. Below 5C is ice swimming territory and will cause problems for inexperienced swimmers. Afterwards immediate hot showers can lead to shivering, muscular pain or even fainting – these are inadvisable. Use layers of warm clothes to wrap up, have a hot flask of drink (non-alcoholic) waiting and stay in view of fellow swimmers.

SwimTrek - Cold Water Lakes

Extra Kit To Consider


Tow float: For additional safety and buoyancy.


Changing/dry robe: The ultimate apparel for cold water recovery – it’s like a big, all-purpose dressing gown.


Woolly gloves & hat: You might need booties and globes in the water. Afterwards, it’s important to layer up quickly. Woolly gloves and hat are essential for numb extremities after very cold swims.


A warm drink & stodgy food: Lots of cold water swimmers will tell you cake is critical. Warm fluids and food certainly serve to boost your warm-up times and cheer you up before you’re fully recovered.


_There you have it! We hope our advice serves you well. Don’t let the skin-tingling gooseflesh put you off. Cold water offers a huge immune system boost. It’s great for sports recovery and endorphin-fired positive thinking. Explore our SwimTrek Trips for a variety of warm and cold water swimming holidays.

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