It’s that time of year again, where people of all ages make their annual debut in the cold English waters, but with this can come some risks if you’re unprepared! So, whether you’re a runner and screamer Christmas day swimmer, a Boxing Day Dipper or New Year’s resolution setter, we want to make sure that you are keeping safe whilst in the cold conditions with this handy festive swim guide.
Firstly, the question you may be asking…
“Why on earth would you want to go in cold water in December?”
Over the year’s dozens have braved the English Channel for a festive swim but why? Some say it’s to cure their Christmas hangover whilst others say it’s to help digest all of the indulgent food they’ve eaten the day before. Whilst some of this may be true, there are also many health benefits from cold water swimming, including a rush of endorphins, strengthening your immune system and improves cardiovascular circulation and for some, the festive celebrations are the perfect time to get your kit off and take a dip.
Notice how we said dip not swim?
Well that is because if you are unfamiliar with the colder temperatures and this is your Festive debut, you won’t want to be staying in for too long we can tell you! Which is why many people across the nation choose to go cold water dipping instead of a full blown swim.
What is dipping?
Cold Water Dipping is how many people start getting into open water swimming. It is the best way to get your body acclimatised to the open waters and to avoid hypothermia. Dipping is essentially slowly immersing your body into the water for a limited period of time, a great alternative to a swim.
How long should I dip for?
There is no expectation on how long you should spend in the water as this will all be completely up to your own body’s tolerance. Remember, it isn’t a competition. You could consider going for some ‘mini dips’ to get yourself prepared for the festive occasion.
You can start being in for 5 seconds and building your way up. We would recommend spending no longer than 15 minutes in the water.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for your festive swim:
Wear a swimsuit so you can get used to it. But the colder you feel, the better the adaption for staying in the colder water for longer over time.
Ease yourself in slowly. Don’t just run straight in, because that is when problems start to happen. Take it easy to allow your body to control itself.
Notice when your body starts to stiffen up, or your breathing is getting shallow. When this happens get out of the water.
Dry off and put on warm layers and have a hot beverage to get you warmer quicker. 10 minutes after you exit the water is when you will be at your coldest so make sure you keep wrapped up and warmed up by then.
Jump or dive into deep water unless you are experienced or already acclimatized to that level of cold.
Take part if you’re intoxicated or hungover. This will affect your judgement on how long you can stay in the water.
Stay in for too long – as soon as you feel comfortably warm in the water – it’s time to go!
Have a hot shower until you return to a comfortable temperature – This will bring blood back to the freezing surface of your skin quickly and chill your core.
Getting into the winter water can be a massive shock to the body and can lead to hyperventilation and panic attacks. But if you take the recommended precautions and guidance, it should make an exhilarating festive experience.
If you are taking part in a festive swim this winter, keep safe and keep warm.