by Simon Griffiths, Outdoor Swimmer Magazine - @SimonDGriffiths

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • In very cold water (less than five degrees), a couple of minutes is plenty.
  • If in doubt, get out.

You might also enjoy...

Keep swimming outdoors this winter
Outdoor swimming in winter is an acquired taste. Cold water isn’t just uncomfortable. It hurts. And it’s dangerous. So why get into it voluntarily?

Dealing with the number twos
Professor Greg Whyte talks about ‘The ability to keep going when the sh*t hits the fan!'

The Depths: On swimming, fear, acceptance, and courage
Swimming author Jessica J. Lee talks about overcoming her fear of lakes and became immersed in open water swimming.

Other swimming posts