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Cold Water Swimming Hits The Headlines

The health benefits of cold water swimming have long been known to those brave enough to take an icy plunge. Anecdotal evidence from year-round swimmers includes having fewer colds, an increase in blood circulation and the fabled 'cold water high' that is experienced once your body has adjusted. 

Over the last few years open water swimming has experienced a huge increase in popularity as the hot weather, travel restrictions, lockdowns and now pool closures enticed a host of new people to try the sport. 

And before long, people were experiencing more benefits than just the exercise. 

Swimming Is Winning

This group of sea swimmers in Gosport found that a morning swim was helping them cope with the impact of lockdown on their mental health. The 'Win the Morning, Win the Day' group has been attracting 100 swimmers a week and is planning on setting up similar groups around the country. 



Dip into the Science

Cold water swimming has also been attracting the attention of the academic world. Over the summer, doctors and psychiatrists recruited the help of the Chill group in Croyde, North Devon to help them study the benefits of ocean swimming on mental health. If the results show a strong correlation then in the future GPs could be prescribing cold water swimming as a way to manage mental health issues.  

In October the BBC reported on Louise Buxton from Derbyshire. She has found that swimming helps her relieve the ongoing symptoms of Long Covid she was experiencing. Immersion in cold water has helped to reduce the chest pain she had suffered from since contracting Covid-19 earlier in the year. 



Finally, another study on cold water swimmers at Parliament Hill Lido has discovered a protein that could slow the onset of dementia or even reverse it. The research is in the very early stages, but it is clear that the science is slowly beginning to catch up with what many swimmers have known all along - that a bit of cold water is very good for you. 


Have you experienced any health benefits from a chilly dip? We would love to hear about your experiences. Share your stories in the comments below. 



  • Previously exercise-committed ,never ill, people would never believe my age (50).
    Sep 2020 i got hit with a virus , prob ,covid (no temperature or cough meant no test for me). I have spent most of the last 14 months in bed, Now diagnosed with CFS, and wil array of weird head symptoms that can only be described as rushes, vertigo, pressure, etc
    Exertion , cognitive or physical comes at a price. I am nowhere near the strength i had before. Sometimes just doing a bunch of emails is enough for me to have to go lie down.
    I have always swum but never past October. The cold swims im having now, well into November are proving the medicine no doctor has been able to find for me . They improve my quality of life , attenuating many of these odd head symptoms.
    Some days it tales some courage .
    I will keep it for as long as i can through this winter. I can’t be grateful enough for having the sea right here – but a staple , regarldess of weather or location is cold bucketfuls at home. I can;t recommend this enough. You build up and then the swims won’t be too difficult at first.

  • This is my first year swimming in the sea in ramsgate kent. I suffer with rhumatoid arthritis and usually this is the time of year I dread getting out of bed can be like trying to walk on broken glass extremely painful. I had attacks all over my body and I had what my consultant described as ‘a very aggressive form of RA’ the amazing thing that’s happened this winter I’m suffering no pain at all no swollen joints and I feel amazing! I swim every day sometimes having a double dip. also do yoga and diet have helped to minimise the effects but iv never had a winter with mo pain at all before!

    Wendy Jones

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