Winter swimming, in other words, swimming in cold water in the middle of nature. You hear the birds chirping, you breathe in the fresh air and your body tingles from the cold. You are over the shock and you have already swam the first few meters. What a wonderful feeling this gives, this is really something you want to do more often!
Swimming in the winter is something we don't do very often. Yet it is becoming increasingly popular to dive into a cold lake or puddle because it is good for your health and your mental state. And this is possible in the Netherlands, but also during your holiday in an ice-cold mountain lake, how perfect does that sound?
Did yo know there are competitions of cold water swims around the world?
You can check the International Winter Swimming Association if you are interested in the topic. Here you can find events, records, and more information about this growing sport.
THE 7 DO'S AND DON'TS DURING COLD WATER SWIMMING
It's better not to just jump into a lake, you have to prepare yourself for this. That is why we would like to share a number of do's and don'ts with you!
- Listen to your own body
- Start with a shower or bucket of water
- Go with someone
- Choose a safe place
- Don't stay in the water too long
- Prepare well
- Don't let your head get too cold
1. LISTEN TO YOUR OWN BODY
Only enter the cold water when you feel good. Do not dive into the cold water in 1x anyway if you have heart, kidney or thyroid problems, epilepsy, high blood pressure or if you are pregnant. Also pay close attention to your body when you get out of the water. Ewout Staartjes says in the Champion that the moment you don't get warm anymore. You swam too long. Therefore, shorten your swimming session next time.
2. START WITH A COLD SHOWER OR BUCKET OF WATER
Are you not sure whether swimming in cold water is for you or are you a bit hesitant? Then start with a cold shower or with a bucket of cold water. In winter, the water in nature is about 5 to 10 degrees colder than that from the tap.
3. GO SWIMMING WITH SOMEONE
Together is not only fun, but it is also a lot safer. You can help each other get out of the water; if something goes wrong, you always have someone to help you.
4. CHOOSE A SAFE PLACE
Rijkswaterstaat has an overview of safe outdoor swimming areas. You can also download the swimming water app for this. It is certainly useful for cold water swimming that you choose a location where you can easily get in or out of the water. Think of a jetty with steps into the water or a beach where you can easily walk in and out of the water.
5. DO NOT STAY IN THE WATER FOR TOO LONG
Cold is numbing, so don't rely on the feeling when you're in the water. Therefore, do not swim for longer than 1 minute the first few times. You can of course build this up by adding 15 seconds each time. Pay attention to how you feel for the rest of the day.
6. Be well prepared
Make sure you dive into the water fit and especially warm. You can warm up by first walking or cycling to the location of the lake. Bring a thermos with nice hot coffee or tea for after swimming. Don't forget that warming up after that time is also very important. Bringing extra thick socks is therefore not a superfluous luxury.
7. MAKE SURE TO KEEP YOUR HEAD WARM
A hat ensures that your head does not cool down. And that is very important that this does not happen during cold water swimming. If you don't put your head underwater, you can just put on a wool cap. Otherwise, you can opt for a bathing cap.
WHEN WILL YOU TAKE YOUR FIRST DIVE IN NATURE?
Now that you know the do's and don'ts you can plan your first dive in the middle of nature. Do you want to discover what the benefits are for you? Then you can always choose to keep a log. Write down the time and moment of the cold water swim and how you feel after that time.
If you have an Apple watch or Ouraring, you can also see how your sleep and heart rate response to a dip in the cold water. And don't be afraid, you'll probably feel so good after the first cold water dip that you'll want to do it more often. It becomes such a ritual. Check out our ice baths here.