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Benefits of cold water swimming


Posted by Rose K under Swimming on 29 December 2012 at 12:00 AM

Cold water swimming is an unique exercise which is often regarded as a mental challenge as well as a physical one.

For a start, us warm-blooded mammals tend to avoid activities which require us to burn lots of energy to stay warm. The challenge of the cold tests your mental will power as well as your physical limits. One of the benefits of cold water swimming is that it is a great fat burner, one Serpentine swimmer had this to say about it:

Serpentine Swimmers Peter Pan CupOnce you get out, you feel like you have shed half your body weight, particularly in winter. I have gone down two belt buckle holes since I started! 

What do you wear when open water swimming?

In regards to kit, you may be thinking that a wetsuit would be a wise choice - nope! The thrill of the cold is definitely lost if you're wearing a warming wetsuit. The usual kit for swimmers (at least in the eyes of the Serpentine Swimmers) involves a swimming costume, swimming shorts or speedo with a swimming cap and goggles - nice and simple.

How and why do people start cold water swimming?

For many swimmers, cold water was not so much a choice as a fate - open water swimming can be addictive, it's a great way to start a day and you're not left smelling like chlorine after your swim. For most swimmers we spoke to, their step from open water to cold open water was simply the changing of the seasons; at what point should you stop starting your day in a way you love?

I prefer the open water to the pool purely because I find the pool boring. In the lake, each day is different due to factors such as wind and temperature. It gives you an element of freedom that cannot be achieved in the pool. After you have finished, you feel like you have accomplished something and is a great way to start the day.

The Serpentine Swimmers have an excellent sense of comraderie - the club house is a buzz of positivity with most swimmers relishing the fact that the average person is still in bed, the sun has not yet risen and yet these open water swimmers will already have finished their morning swim!

These photos are the few I took on my Serpentine swimming experience - it was dark, the water temperature was around 2°C and I won't pretend my language was pretty as I swam across the lake! The rush of blood around your body is like nothing you've felt before; my skin went so red as I came out of the water as my body was trying its hardest to warm me back up. All-in-all, I loved the experience and can't wait to add open water swimming into my fitness regime in 2013!

Do you get sick from cold water swimming?

There are risks with cold water swimming, as with any sport - here are some tips for safe cold water swimming.

Have you ever gone cold water swimming? If not, take the Challenge to Go for an open water swim in winter - New Year's Day could be the perfect time for a dip!