Its not easy swimming or dipping in freezing cold water in Ireland but there are some tips that make it easier to commit. When I use the words sea swimming I also include lakes, waterfalls or wherever is possible for you. When I use the term sea swimmer this includes sea dippers.
Motivation does not always work as it relies on so many factors. Some days you may feel motivated to hit the sea other days you won’t. It is based on emotions and feelings.
Focus on building habits works must better for me. Habits take the decision making out of the process. Once it’s a habit, there is no need for motivation. With habits you are not waiting to be motivated. You are taking action every day on your goals through your habits whether that is a daily run walk or sea swim or whatever else you want to incorporate
into your life.
Sometimes you need to change your identity
I talk to a lot of people who say I would love to be a sea swimmer but I cant as .....I am always cold, I don’t have anyone to swim with, I don’t know how to start, I am afraid, I cannot swim and on and on. If you want to develop the habit of becoming an all year-round sea swimmer you can. We were not born doing this we developed the habit. Our mindset is really important here. Change your words from I can’t do this rather than I am lucky I get to do this.
Tips that make it easier for me.
1. Make it a habit. For me sea swimming is a daily habit. I have certain daily rituals I do that keep me focused. On days when I lack motivation, it is irrelevant as my habits continue anyway. Daily habits are easier for me as I don’t push them to the next day. However, I understand we all have different life demands so make a schedule and stick to it. I would encourage anyone to start stacking small daily habits and see how this works. The compound effect of stacking habits is amazing.
2. I have a couple of WhatsApp groups where I can connect with people about meeting at the shore. There is always someone looking to swim. I get a lot of joy in introducing someone to the sea who would never have contemplated it but grow to love and need it. This is where my true passion lies. There is nothing like having someone to be accountable to and also sea swimming is easier with people and way more fun.
3. Be prepared. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Here is a list of things that make sea swimming easier.
Swim same time each day unless tide is very far out as depending on where you dip it can be really hard to get in at low tide. The mornings I swim I put on my swimsuit as soon as I wake up. Or if I’m running, I put on running gear. You have already committed to the activity in your brain.
- Invest in neoprene booties and gloves- a neoprene hat if you plan to immerse your head otherwise a woolly hat.
- A bucket for carrying the wet gear home but also to bathe your feet in warm water from a 2 litre bottle of warm water to warm up the feet and hands is just heaven.
- a hot water bottle which I leave in the inside pocket of my coat- less stuff to carry.
- a hot drink for after to increase your core temperature
- a poncho towel and a coat – it becomes your uniform. I leave the house in a swimsuit and coat and neoprene booties and a woolly hat so that when I arrive at the shore I just have to take coat off and put on gloves and in I go. Especially for those cold windy days, you need to make the transition from car to sea as easy as possible. Wearing a hat in the sea makes a big difference to me as we lose a lot of heat through our heads.
- Splash the back of your neck with water as you are getting in so that your body is familiar with the sea temperature so less shock
- When I come out, I put on poncho towel and coat remove swimsuit and straight back into car and home. I leave the neoprene booties on with slides until I get home and the woolly hat.
As I swim daily and try not to use my dryer, I have a few pairs of togs that I can rotate. Putting on wet togs is never nice. I make sure my booties and gloves are somewhere to dry. Get used to keeping everything together so things will be easy when you are rushing out the door. Before you go to bed make sure your have everything ready for your morning ritual so if it’s a run have your running gear out and ready or a swim the same.
The post swim chills usually kick in about 10 to 20 minutes after swimming so make sure you put plenty of layers on when you come home. I find a hot shower makes me worse and is not a great idea as it can further decrease your internal core temperature. Things that work to heat up is running on the beach, hoovering, brisk walking, or a light jog. You will get to know your own body and what works.
If you are finding it too long to return to normal body temperature, you may be spending too long in the water. Another thing people ask is how long should I spend in the water. The most common studies suggest until you can handle it. Controlling your breathing is also useful as when our breathing goes out of control, our mind things this is something to be fearful of so try slow down the breaths, it really works!
Lastly Winter sea swimming makes me embrace the Winter rather than dread it. It makes me more resilient when it comes to bad weather. There are so many benefits that we all know come from cold water swimming so why would you not do it.