Are you going to give open water swimming/dipping a go this year?
Some may associate cold water swimming/dipping as a weird form of self-torture done by crazy people who like pain and woolly hats.
With thousands of women, men, girls and boys participating in their first ever cold water dip in the last year, cold water immersions are becoming more and more acceptable.
It has become a popular way to push yourself mentally and physically but also comes as a rewarding challenge that many are doing with friends and family.
Being new to something like this can be intimidating. Watching people out in the icy waters can look crazy and down right awful but it is a lot less scary than you think. It takes the first step of courage to get out there on your first outing. I encourage all to get their whole body into the water (not like many friends of mine who just dip their toes in and then run for warmth). Get your whole body into the water and truly embrace your mind and body to this indescribable feeling. Focus on your breathing and let this new experience take over.
Yes there are things that me MUST know or understand about being safe but the only thing to be scared about is getting addicted.
Why should you give it a go? It is hard to properly describe how swimming or dipping makes you feel. We all have our own unique experiences and reasons.
Here are a few from the "The Seashell people".
"In this day and age it feels more difficult to get in touch with our primal natural because the distraction of technology. I enjoy the cold because it allows me to stop thinking so much and simply be".
“Being in the water is exhilarating for me, not only are you at one with your surroundings but it makes you feel alive and I've never laughed so much...everything is so much funnier and you forget everything that's getting you down and only feel the good things. Open sea lover!".
"I struggle a lot with anxiety. Open water swimming has shown me that I am capable of way more than I have ever imagined. The water/waves can be unforgiving at times but I feel like I am in control of giving the water my control. It is hard to explain but I feel at home there. It gives me hope and courage".
"It is the ultimate way of getting in tune with your inner self. It is simple, it is raw and takes you on an adventure with nature".
Although we all have our different reasons we can still find comfort in doing this together as a community. It has been a difficult couple of years and for many this has given them purpose. A reason to smile and enjoy the outdoors that we as a society have lost touch with.
If you are new to this or are open to giving it a go in then here are just a few tips.
It is safe to say that we are not short on options. The sea, rivers, lochs, bath tubs, barrels, or ponds etc.
Find an event or group near you.
For your first ever swim or dip, try and find an event which is close to home. Doing this allows you to feel more comfortable in your surrounding. Head out to the water before the event (especially if you get anxious or nervous easily). If the event is an easy drive/walk from your house it can also reduce hassle and stress. Means that if you get super cold then you are not too far from a warm shower.
Bring a friend along.
First things first. ALWAYS have someone/people with you. You will be surprised at how many people would like to give it a go but are too scared to do it by themselves. Of course, like any new thing it can be daunting to begin with, so find a buddy to take along. You never know, it may become your "thing". Something that you do daily weekly or monthly with friends. Not going to lie, sometimes it can be a chore leaving your warm house to head out into the cold water. Make yourself accountable. You are more likely to get it done and then feel incredible for doing it (trust me).
Planning ahead/be prepared. Being in water, whether you are swimming or dipping can have different affects on people. Making sure you are prepared can make all the difference to your experience.
You may find these tips works for you and maybe you wont but give them a go and find what works for you:
Have a hot water bottle at the ready.
Flask of hot water/tea/coffee/juice for after.
Have a bag full of warm clothes in case you or something else needs them.
Use a tow float as this helps show people in and out of the water where you are. It is also great for carrying anything you may need but you can use it as a small buoyancy aid (to do reply on this though), so if you are feeling tired and need a break then hold/hug it.
Let someone else who is not going out with you know where and what you are doing.
Bring a hat, gloves, robe, buff, cosy socks, joggers, hoodie and wear them right until you go in and put them all on as soon as you come out.
After your dip, once your clothes are on then try to move around. Whether it is doing squats or skipping or running etc. Try to warm up form the inside out if you can. Jumping straight into a hot shower or bath can be very sore on your extremities as the blood comes back to them so move first.
Eat and drink plenty for the rest of the day and stay warm
Smile, laugh, jump around and enjoy yourself.
Start small and build up.
Don't be too disappointed if you only manage a minute or so on your first go. It is healthy to do so. Next time see if you can go for a little longer. See how your body and mind feels. The great thing about this is that it is not a competition. More a journey.
Finally, enjoy it! Yes, sometimes it will be tough but if you go into it with an open mind, you will get sooo much more out of it. Enjoy it and be proud of what you are doing. Imagine where you will be in a year from now and all the progress you will have made. It is an amazing feeling that I cannot describe. Get out there and enjoy!