Chilled Swimmers

Ah, cold water swimming. The ultimate test of your ability to withstand the icy grip of Mother Nature. For many it’s just not an option. For some, they might consider it but only with a thick layer of neoprene for protection.  But what if you’re feeling particularly daring, or just forgot your wetsuit at home? Fear not, my friend, because you can still take the plunge into the frigid waters without any fancy gear. Just be prepared for a few…ahem…unique challenges.

First off, let’s talk about the obvious. Without a wetsuit, you’re going to be feeling the cold in ways you never thought possible. Your skin will turn a lovely shade of pink, your teeth will chatter like a broken typewriter, and your nether regions will wave the white flag and retreat to a safe and cozy hiding spot. This is all perfectly normal, and your body’s way of saying “What the hell are you doing you fool? Get out of the water!”

But you can’t listen to that voice of reason, can you? No, you’re determined to prove to the world (and yourself) that you’re tough enough to handle the cold. So you take a deep breath, and…wait, why are your lungs suddenly desperate for breath? Oh right, that’s because the cold water has set off your ‘fight flight’ response and you’re basically hyperventilating. Just keep breathing, or gasping, or whatever it is you’re doing – just try and do the breathing out bit for longer to make it all fell a little bit  easier!

Once you get past the initial shock, it’s time to start swimming. This is where things get really interesting. Without a wetsuit, you’re basically a human ice cube, but with arms and legs flailing around in the water trying to find some warmth from somewhere. You brain can only focus on just how cold you are and you can forget about having a chat with your swim buddy. But hey, you’re still moving, right?

As you swim, you start to notice a few…unpleasant sensations. Like the fact that your skin feels like you’re being poked by millions of tiny needles. Or that your hands and feet have gone completely numb, and you’re not sure if you’re still moving them or if they’ve just fallen off. 

But don’t worry, it’s all worth it for the rush of adrenaline and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you finally make it back to shore. You stumble out of the water, gasping for air and feeling like a zombie who’s been thawed out after a long winter. But you did it. You faced your fears and conquered the cold water without a wetsuit. And even though might never do it again, you’ll always have this hilarious (and slightly traumatic) memory to look back on.

But the truth of it is that if you’ve braved the cold and taken the plunge, those uncomfortable moments fade from your memory as you feel the post swim buzz.  In all of the ‘Wild Water Wellbeing’ cold swims I’ve led each and every one who’s taken part (bar just one person) has come back for more.  Joking about the discomfort, jokingly saying they have a note from their mum or they’re sorry they forgot their kit, but each one saying that they have actually been looking forward to our chilly swim all week.

So go ahead, embrace your inner daredevil and jump into that icy water without a wetsuit. You’ll come back for more – Just be prepared for a few…unexpected surprises along the way!


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