Tips for sea swimming in winter

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Keep your sea swim habit going over the colder months with these tips for staying warm and safe

Downings beach in winter

This year many people learned to appreciate the physical and mental benefits of a regular dip in the sea. There’s no need to quit your newfound hobby just because the temperature has dropped.

There are lots of helpful ways to stay as warm as possible during and after your swim. Here, Jillian from Wild Atlantic Surf Co shares some tips:

It’s okay to wear a wetsuit

Hardy experienced sea swimmers may argue that wearing a wetsuit negates the health benefits of taking a cold water dip. But if you still want to swim and are finding the cold unbearable, a wetsuit may help you to prolong your stay in the water. As always with sea swimming, use your judgement.

Shorty wetsuit, Decathlon (€30)

Keep your extremities warm

Swimming in cold water of less than 10°C  can cause numbness and pains in the hands and feet. Wearing neoprene boots and gloves in the water can be helpful to get you through the colder months.

Aqua shoes, Mountain Warehouse (was €19.99, now €9.99)

Be safe, be seen

Not only will wearing a good quality swimming cap keep your head dry and protect against wind chill, wearing a brightly coloured one will ensure you are easier to spot in the water. RNLI recommend orange or pink. You could also carry a tow float.

Speedo cap, (€9.91)

Get warm and dry ASAP

After coming out of the water the body continues to cool for approximately 20-30 minutes, so it’s important to warm up quickly upon leaving the water. A hot shower can make blood flow from your heart to your skin which can further lower your temper and your blood pressure, which can potentially make you feel faint and cause a stinging sensation on your skin. So change into dry clothes, and grab a warm mug of tea from a flask. A changing robe will keep you warm and give you privacy to get dressed quickly.

Changing robe, (€99.99)

Be prepared

There’s nothing worse than getting out of the water and realising you have forgotten your towel, or that you left your flash of tea at home. Here’s Wild Atlantic’s cold water swimming checklist:

  • Swimsuit
  • Wetsuit if wearing
  • Goggles
  • Sillicone hat
  • Neoprene boots and gloves
  • Tow float
  • Changing robe
  • Towel
  • Flip flops
  • Wooly hat and gloves
  • Plenty of layers
  • Flask of tea
  • Nutritional treats for after your swim