We have had a few incredibly intrepid and brave new swimmers join us on our dawn swims of late and so I wanted to offer some advice for anyone thinking of taking the plunge at this time of year!
Note Number 1 – Find somewhere safe to swim and preferably with other people so that they can offer you advice on tide times or suitability to swim in certain pools, lakes or quarries. In my own experience of seeking out wild swim spots some lakes and quarries can look beautifully inviting but can often be used as dumping grounds for farming rubbish, rubble and chemical waste – not very appealing but something to consider if you are starting out new! The Outdoor Swimming Society have some great advice on safe spots to swim on their website.
Note Number 2 - Get yourself some neoprene swimming gloves and socks. You can buy these at any reputable surf shop and preferably make sure they are well fitted – the tighter the better. If they are too loose they will quickly fill with water which makes for an uncomfortable swim. Getting in new at this time of year means that your hands and feet will suffer first – often the burning sensation is the thing that brings the swim to a premature end.
Note Number 3 – Wear a swim hat even if you don’t intend to put your face or head in the water. Swim Secure do a great neon bubble hat range – in bright high visibility colours (I wear these myself) as they are great for safety – especially on dark winter mornings and they are made of thick silicone for extra insulation - keeping your head dry and most importantly protected, visible and warm!
Note Number 4 – Get yourself a little shorty wetsuit – just to help with the initial adjustment to cold water especially if you are starting in the winter – GLIDESOUL do a fantastic thin neoprene range for women with front zips for ease of getting on and for comfort. They also come in a range of jazzy designs for safety in the water and many of them are currently in the sale!
Note Number 5 – Build up slowly – It is ok to not stay in very long – when I was first learning I would literally get in scream and get out again, but little by little and week by week I got braver and I stayed in a little longer each time. I started with breaststroke – just little swims and very short distances staying close to the shore but eventually I made it out into the depths and it felt great!
Note Number 6 – It is meant to be fun! - I notice that with all the new people turning up in the mornings to swim with us they are all naturally very nervous - It’s so important that people realise its not a competition and everyone gets better with practice – your stroke improves, your confidence improves and your knowledge of the water improves – before you know it you are the one giving advice to people and that is a wonderful feeling!
Note Number 7 – Stay out of the shower for as long as you possibly can once you get home. Often this is hard, if like me you need to rush off to work but going from a very cold environment to a very hot one can cause the skin to become extremely itchy, tingly and uncomfortable. This irritating feeling is a result of the very abrupt temperature change in the blood and the skin. It is best to warm up slowly from the inside out to avoid any skin irritation. Stay in your layers and woolly hat for as long as you can and enjoy taking time out with a hot drink and some porridge whilst reading your morning paper!
Enjoy and Happy Swimming!