“Do’s and don’ts for cold/open water swimming”
Don’t get left out in the cold…….take advice from those who know
I have been observing you all for a while now, and feel you all need to think about the following:
Before swimming, remember:
1. Sleep well – and eat well at least 2hrs before you swim…if you are swimming in the morning, make sure it’s a starchy, filling breakfast – cereal (porridge is great), toast and drink plenty too. We always need fluids to swim – or cramp will very often occur. The amount you eat will of course depend on how long - and how far - you are swimming. You need to insulate from the ‘inside out’ – especially at the beginning of the season when the sea is cold!
2. Wrap up warm before you start…your muscles need to be warm before you get in – so stay warm up until the last moment (if possible!). You need lots of ‘loose layers’ that can be easily put on straight after you come out
3. Prepare your own bag – for those who know you get easily cold, put in your bag an extra silicone swim cap for early season swims, spare goggles, an extra towel to stand on while getting dressed after, a woolly hat, warm socks & ‘closed in’ shoes (wear them to the swim if not too hot) & hot water bottle if you want; gloves are always a great idea to keep in your bag, just in case. Make a warm drink in a flask too – it’s always helpful.
During your swim:
1. Get in as carefully (so you don’t slip & hurt yourself!) and as quickly as you can…
2. NEVER SWIM ALONE – OR WITHOUT ANYONE WATCHING YOU... This is probably the single most dangerous thing any swimmer will do…we never know when/if cramp or anything worse will happen…it is therefore important that you choose someone of your own speed to swim with.
3. Once you are in – don’t stop and mess around – this is when your body core temperature drops very, very rapidly – and without you realising. This is fine when the sea is warm, i.e. from July (at the earliest) onwards. It is great being sociable and having fun – but only when it is warm enough! Hypothermia sets in very quietly……and is NOT FUNNY! If you start to feel cold – get out very quickly please…..no point in trying to be a hero – it’s not worth it!
After your swim:
1. KEEP YOUR SWIM HAT ON – PUT YOUR WOOLLY HAT ON TOP OF IT WHILE YOU ARE GETTING DRESSED…. It doesn’t matter what you look like! Put your main towel around you and dry your feet quickly – standing on your spare towel of course – and put your warm socks on next – then get your wet costume off quickly and dry layers on as quickly as you can….if your fingers are not working properly – ask someone to help!!!
2. Once dressed with all your layers and jacket on – start sipping your warm drink if you have one – or buy one if you can – and KEEP MOVING AROUND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE….keep the blood moving around your body….
3. HAVE SOMETHING TO EAT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE…
4. ONCE YOU START TO FEEL WARMER – and only then, you can start to remove a layer at a time; if you are at home and are having a shower/bath – if you are very very cold – do NOT have the water too hot – you will burn your skin without even knowing it – start with warm water and as you warm up, add hot water slowly..but steps 2 & 3 will aid the warming up process quickly.
We are all in this sport to enjoy the sea and have fun in it – if it is too cold and painful – we will not enjoy it – and there is no point in that at all!
SAFETY – SAFETY – SAFETY….
This must always be our priority – so I wish you all a safe, happy and fun sea swimming season….
any questions – please do not hesitate to ask me….. Sally