Winter Swimming

Winter Swimming

Here at Divers Cove, if you have an active Silver or Gold membership you can swim with us all through the winter!

You can swim during our winter opening times for one hour on a Saturday & Sunday.

Saturday and Sunday 10am – 11am from November – April.

Please note you must already be a Silver or Gold member at Divers Cove and an experienced outdoor swimmer.

Real winter swimming is not a sport or hobby that you can just start.  It takes the experience of open water swimming in general as well as knowledge of cold water immersion and cold adaptation to be able to do it safely.  If you have fallen in love with open water swimming through the summer months and have been coming regularly, we recommend continuing to come as much as possible through September and early October, until the lake closes to summer swimmers.  This allows you to become more experienced and gradually acclimatise your body to the rapidly cooling waters. 

The good news is that with regular cold water swimming, you will eventually become adapted to swimming in cold water conditions. Experienced wild swimmers still feel the initial pain and discomfort that swimming in cold water under 12C brings, but they are more able to deal with the shock associated with it.

What is afterdrop and how can it be avoided?

For the inexperienced cold water swimmer, after-drop refers to the decline in your core body temperature after you have got out of the water. When you swim in cold water the body cleverly tries to protect organs by reducing blood flow to the skin and limbs. Thus the core stays warm while the skin, arms and legs cool down.  This period of cooling can potentially last 30-40 minutes after your swim. You can have a lower deep body temperature half an hour after your swim than when you got out the water!

After drop is essential to be aware of as for anyone new to the world of wild swimming it can be surprising and a bit scary. Getting changed into warm clothes including a hat as quickly as possible and having a warm drink is always a must!

Winter Swimming Equipment

Here we cover some of the essential equipment that you will need to safely (and enjoyably) swim throughout the winter in England.

Winter Swimming Wetsuit

All swimmers will require a wetsuit when the water temperature is under 16C unless experienced in cold water swimming. When it comes to wetsuits, there are plenty of go-to brands among swimmers and triathletes. Their wetsuits and swimming gear are of the highest grade, so you can always be sure that you’ll get great value for money.  We like Blueseventy, Roka Maverick, Orca and Synergy to name a few. These specialist suits are great value for money when buying cold water wetsuits and most have premium features such as insulation, SCS coating for added hydrodynamics in the water as well as buoyancy panelling and uber comfortable designs. You can hire a wetsuit on site from £10 per session.

Neoprene Coloured Winter Swim Hat

A cousin of the classic swim hat that we use throughout the summer here at the Cove, these hats are thicker and made from neoprene material. They have a snug fit for optimum insulation and we recommend a minimum thickness of 3mm.  When getting changed post swim, your swimming hat is the last thing to be removed and often a woolly hat goes straight on top – keeping your head warm is vital. 

Decent Ear Plugs

A must-have for preventing cold water from going into your ear we love moulded plugs to accommodate different ear sizes, designed to cover the ear opening to create a seal for ear protection whilst cold water swimming. 

Winter Swimming Neoprene Gloves & Socks

Bare feet and hands allow more body heat to escape than you may realise so good quality neoprene socks and gloves are a must. 

Changing Robe

Changing robes or dry robes are a winter swimmer’s best friend.  DryRobe is probably one of the biggest brands in the market and this piece of kit serves a dual function. They’re super warm and cosy to climb into when straight out of cold water, and their oversized nature gives you enough room to allow you to change underneath, without losing heat and your dignity!

Tow Float

We normally say during summer swimming that a tow float is only required when not swimming with a wetsuit, however, we recommend that during winter swimming you do use one, just to make you extra visible to our team if you were to struggle at any point!

Cold Water Health & Safety

When it comes to Winter swimming, being an already experienced outdoor swimmer is essential.  As well as having the correct swimming kit as stated above is also really important when keeping you safe. Cold water swimming can be a dangerous sport. 

How long should you swim in cold water?

The colder it is, the less time you should spend in the water. As a rule of thumb, one minute per degree is advised unless you have extensive cold water acclimatisation. Stay within your safe limits, acclimatise yourself slowly and don’t stay in too long, especially if there is ice on the lake.

Cold water swimming becomes as much about immersion as swimming itself.  The health benefits of immersion are felt in those first few minutes when your body goes through the cold water shock, after that point your body starts to cool and it can become detrimental and potentially dangerous risking hypothermia if you stay in too long.

It is essential to have some knowledge about hypothermia so that you can keep an eye out for the symptoms, and know how to mitigate them as well.

Float To Live

If you do start to struggle, try not to panic. If you start to experience cold water shock, fight your instinct to swim and thrash around. Instead, FLOAT ON YOUR BACK.  This will enable you to control your breathing and call or signal for help from one of our team members. It’s also a great technique to use if you get tired when swimming, simply roll onto your back and use your tow float for support.