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Trend of the Season: Safe Cold Water Swimming 101

Last week we covered some essential reasons to start this amazing new hobby. This time, we’re going to cover the most important safety considerations that ensures safe cold water swimming experiences to all of us. Enjoy!

1. Acclimatize but know your limits

Trust your body but remember to listen to it. Just remember: you will get used to the cold water mentally and foremost, physically. Even though it may seem like a shock, just keep swimming. However, know your limits. When the temperature drops, decrease the time you spend in the water. In winter, the usual amount is one or two minutes at a time.

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2. The right gear

One of the most important things to remember when going cold water swimming is to wear a swimming hat – a regular beanie or a woolly hat does the trick. It helps to preserve your body heat. You may also want to grab along neoprene booties and gloves to prevent your feet and hands getting too cold too fast. If you’re a first timer, don’t stress about the gear. A hat and a swimsuit will do as long as you are comfortable.

3. Be safe

No diving or jumping into the cold water unless you are used to it since it may cause gasping for breath and a cold-water shock. Also keep in mind that open water can be somewhat dangerous so only swim where it’s safe and where you may exit the water fast and easily.

4. Warming up

When leaving the cold water, don’t go running straight to a steaming hot shower as hot water can actually cool your core which can be very dangerous. Put on warm clothes instead, wrap up and have a hot drink. (Hot chocolate made with Oatly’s iKaffe is my personal absolute favourite after a cold swim.)

5. What you need (and definitely don’t)

The most important thing to have is an open mind and to remember to breathe. What you definitely do not need is body shame or a six-pack. Grab your swimsuit, beanie, towel and warm clothes ’cause we about to go swimming!

Kukka Raejärvi

Helsinki '23

English major and an aspiring activist who mostly chills with her dogs or reads books.
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