If you're new to wild swimming or planning to swim through the winter then here's a few practical tips so that you're well prepared.
Please also read the SWIMMING SAFELY advice which has info on tides & weather.
1 - Don't swim alone. Swim with a buddy or at least have someone watching out for you from shore. Swimmimg with friends is safer than swimming alone if you watch out for each other and it's more fun and companionable than swimming alone.
2 - Don't hang about chatting after your swim - that can wait. Get yourself dry, dressed and with a warm drink inside within 10 minutes as that's when the afterdrop will hit and the shivers will start.
A hot water bottle ( not too hot ) can help if you place it under your ampits, between your legs or in the small of your back.
3. - Before you swim make sure your clothes are ready for when you get out. They should be right side out and stacked so that the clothes you want to put on first are on the top with your towel over them. When you're getting dressed sort out your top half first and then if you've got a robie or DryRobe put that on and sort out the bottom half.
4 - Get yourself a mat to stand on while you're getting changed to keep your tootsies off the cold ground. Something with a waterproof backing like a bathmat or carmat will do but you can get special ones too
5 - Be seen - make sure you wear a bright swimcap ( a swimhat also makes a huge difference in keeping your head warm ) and a towfloat greatly increases your chances of being seen by boat traffic or anyone else.
Swimhats are available here SWIMHATS and there are many branded towfloats for sale or you can google drybag towfloat on Amazon and find them for about £15
6. To make carrying kit easier use a jumbo sized shopping or laundry bag which can fold up small in your normal kit bag and then when taken out and opened up you can fill it with your clothes ( in the right order for dressing ) to give lots more rummage room than a kit bag. Even better could be to use one of the insulated bags that you get to put your frozen food in - that way you can add in a hot water bottle to your pile of clothes to get them toasty for when you get dressed.
7 - Wrap up well with a warm hat and don't take off your swimhat until you're ready to put your snuggly titfer on immediately. Then put your hoody hood up over it to keep the chill off your neck.
You can get a snuggly swimming hoody here HOODIES
8 - Zips, hooks and straps are difficult and fiddly with cold hands so invest in a vest .
If you need to use a bra try doing it up before you put it on then step into it and pull it up or if a sports type then pull the whole thing over your head and into place before pulling it up and putting your arms in.
9 - A long sleeve thermal top tucked into thermal leggings under your normal clothes makes you look like a bank robber but keeps you warm and cosy. Make sure you tuck the top into the bottoms so there's no draughty bits.
10. - ICE PANTS - chances are you'll be chilly and in a rush to get dressed so modesty may go out of the window and everyone will see your pants so leave the old holey ones at home and bring your best Bridget Jones's.
11. Warm socks and boots to keep your tootsies toasty. If you get your boots a size bigger than usual you can fit more fluffy socks in. Take a spare pair of fluffy socks - your first pair may get damp and cold if you put them on damp and cold feet so take them off and put on a warm fresh pair about 10 minutes later.
12 . A bottle of slightly warm water poured over your hands and feet will revive them. A hot water bottle can be comforting too.
13 - A flask of something warming to drink - ribena, bovril or sweet tea / coffee can be good - some root ginger left to steep in a flask of hot water will be warming too - and an oversized mug to drink out of so that if you've got the shivers then there's some splash room and you don't spill it all.
14 - You don't want to stay in too long. A good rule of thumb is one minute in the water for every degree of water temperature so if it's winter then 5 to 10 minutes is plenty to start with.
Set yourself a time limit before you get in and stick to it. If you feel OK and recover well then you can always up it next time. If you get a cheapo waterproof watch with a big old fashioned clock dial than set it to midday just before you get in you can easily see check to see if it's time to get out.
It's also a good idea to keep a log of your time spent in the water at various temperatures and a note of how you felt afterwards - that way you can learn where your limits are.
15 - Combine steps 5 and 11 and pour the warm water into the bucket. Fantastic to stand with your feet in warm water while you get dressed 🙂
16 - Straps or Karibiners are handy - you may need crocs or flip flops to walk to the sea - if you've got a strap or karibiner you can then take them off and attach to you or your tow float while you swim.