Nothing helps clear my mind better than the sudden change of temperature as I submerge into the water. The only thing on my mind is how cold it is. Breath slowly. Sometimes I try to trick my self and think it’s actually warm.   

The shock of the water takes my mind off anything I had been worried, stressed or thinking about. After the initial regret of getting into the water, and once my body starts to adapt to the temperature – warming or going numb I haven’t figured out yet, I slowly start to swim.

Gylly Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall

Being spoiled by a 15 minute drive to the beach during university, I really started to see the benefits of swimming throughout the whole year. Going for a swim made me feel productive and awake. Sadly, I no longer live that close to the beach so I had to explore more local options to get my swimming fix.

There were a few local spots that I had been to in the summer, the sun and water temperature objectively more appealing then an over cast drizzling day in November. I wanted to carry on swimming while still enjoying nature. As the seasons changed to autumn and then winter I decided to try out popular swimming spots near me rather than head to indoor swimming pools. What in the summer months was fields with towels sprawled all over, chairs, gazebos, picnics and alive with people and music had now become eerie spotless fields with the chance of maybe one other swimmer occasionally. It was peaceful to see the area so quite and allowed me to appreciate the rivers around me.

Sailing Club, Bradford-On-Avon, Wiltshire

Swimming in the colder months I am able to hear and see more wildlife such as kingfishers, herons and swans. Some of the spots also have no reception so it gives me time away from my phone and I take a book to read afterwards – if I am not too cold and my hands are steady enough to hold something.

I have been trying to go swimming more often to try and build up my tolerance and stay a bit longer in the water. There are a few tips that everyone should read before going for a swim in colder water:

  • Get in slowly so your body can adjust to the water temperature and avoid cold water shock. Cold water shock is when you body is suddenly immersed into cold water (less than 15 degrees) and can cause gasping for breath and rapid breathing. It can lead to hyperventilating or even a heart attack, which may also lead to drowning.
  • Don’t stay in for too long. Listen to your body, if you start to feel cold or your breathing hasn’t settled then get out.
  • Once out, make sure to change quickly into warm dry cloths. Have a hot drink ready to hand to help increase your body temperature.

Farleigh Hungerford Swimming Club, Bath, Wiltshire

There are numerous benefits to cold water swimming for both your physical and mental health. Here are just two blogs about the benefits;

A few of the benefits mentioned in the blogs above range from a rush of endorphins or a post swim high, increased metabolism and reduced inflammation of injuries. 

Make sure to stay safe when you go swimming, check that the water quality is good – I use the Safer Seas & Rivers Service App by Surfers Against Sewage. After heavy rainfall rivers can be extra high, causing a fast flowing river that may be too dangerous to swim in. Some rivers will have weir’s which are best to stay clear of.

Clevedon Marina Lake, Bristol, Somerset

Although there are some risks involved I encourage you to give it a go, even if its just turning your water temperature to cold at the end of your shower! Also don't let anyone convince you that you can't wear a wetsuit, cold water swimming provides amazing benefits whether you wear a costume or a wetsuit.