Three tips for your winter swim
“You are a winter swimmer when you decide to be. Whether you start in early autumn, or when the winter is at its hardest, is not so important. I believe that you can start whenever you want,” says Rudolph Care founder Andrea Elisabeth Rudolph who herself masters the art of the winter swim.
On this page we show you how to ensure a beneficial and life-affirming winter swim experience.
1. Preparation - before, during and after
The best experience comes from effective preparation. A large, luxurious towel is always the best start, but find some warm clothes to take along too. Woolly socks, a beanie, gloves and thermal underwear to keep you warm before you enter the water and to help you warm up again after your dip. The clothes must be easy to put on and take off. When your body is wet and cold, having to fumble around with impractical clothing is no fun at all. Ensure you have something to stand on. A towel or a foam mat – or a pair of water shoes. Cold under your feet makes your body lose heat quickly both before and after you have been in the water so make sure you are raised slightly from the ground. This retains heat. It may also be a good idea to bring along some lukewarm water to pour over your cold feet or into your water shoes after your dip.
Now that we are talking about heat – have something hot to drink ready for when you are dry and dressed again. Hot chocolate, tea or coffee can take the chill off while your body slowly warms up again.
2. A good place and a good friend
Go to a swimming location that you know is popular with winter swimmers. Do not swim alone. Take a good friend with you – swimming together makes the experience safer. If you do not have anyone to take, find some other winter swimmers at your chosen location and ask them to ‘look out for you’ while you are in the water. This often ends up with fun exchanges about tips and tricks for your shared hobby. Some winter swimming locations have a platform at the end of the pier which allows you to stand in the cold water. This can help you to feel safer during the whole experience. If you enter the water from the beach, you do not need to venture out very far to take a dip in shallow water.
3. Calm and deep breathing
Walk into or immerse yourself slowly in the water. Breathe deeply and move deliberately. Some people feel that they gasp or that their breathing quickens in the cold water – this is completely normal. The most important thing is that you concentrate on breathing deeply and calmly. Practice – very few people have complete control over their body on their first winter swims. Do not stay too long in the water – and avoid getting your hair wet if it is very cold outside. You can keep your beanie on while you swim.
Move calmly up out of the water again, dab yourself dry with a towel and … feel it! All the blood in your body will be racing around to every corner of your system which is already warming you up again. Your skin will ‘prickle’ and buzz with life and new energy. Put your clothes back on and sip your hot drink.
If you're dreaming of recreating that buzzing vital feeling at home, without a dip in the sea, we're telling you how to do that right here.