by Simon Griffiths, Outdoor Swimmer Magazine - @SimonDGriffiths

Despite these dangers, cold water swimming can be really fun and enjoyed safely provided you know the risks and prepare and act accordingly. So, here are our tips for having the best winter swimming experience.

  • Treat it as a fun, social activity rather than a serious training exercise.
  • Always swim with other people and look out for each other.
  • Ensure where you swim is safe and that it’s easy to get in and out of the water
  • Start warm. Keep well wrapped up until the last possible moment.
  • Enter the water gradually but purposefully, and feet first. Do not put your face in the water until you are confident your breathing is under control.
  • Determine in advance how long you will stay in and stick to it. This will be a factor of your experience and body size and shape.
  • In very cold water (less than 5 degrees), a couple of minutes is plenty.
  • If in doubt, get out.
  • Many people think the best cold water experience is without a wetsuit, but if you want to wear one go ahead. Remember, you can still suffer cold water shock and hypothermia in a wetsuit.
  • Also feel free to wear neoprene socks, gloves or an extra hat if that helps.
  • Dress immediately that you leave the water, starting with a hat and your upper body. Put on lots of layers and get out of the wind.
  • Enjoy a warm drink, a piece of cake and some banter with your fellow swimmers.
  • Save the shower until you’re properly rewarmed. Having a hot shower immediately after cold water immersion may cause you to faint.