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Tips on How to Acclimatise When Open Water Swimming

Open water swimming is a thrilling and invigorating experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges, especially where the water temperature can be quite brisk. Proper acclimatisation is key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable swim. Below are some essential tips to help you acclimatise effectively for cold/open water swimming.

1. Start Gradually:
Begin your open water swimming journey with short sessions, gradually increasing the duration as your body adapts to the colder temperatures. Sudden exposure to cold water can be a shock to the system, so take it slow to build tolerance.

2. Choose the Right Time:
Opt for warmer times of the day, such as late morning or early afternoon, when the water and air temperature is likely to be at its peak. This can make the initial stages of acclimatisation more comfortable.

3. Wear the Right Gear:
Invest in a high-quality wetsuit and neoprene swim cap designed for open water swimming in colder climates. The wetsuit provides insulation and buoyancy, helping to keep you warm and afloat.  It is also good practice to wear a tow float or dry bag so you can be seen by other water users and people on the shore. 

Cold Water Swimming Essentials

4. Regular Cold Showers:
Incorporate regular cold showers into your routine to condition your body to lower temperatures. This practice helps your body adjust gradually and reduces the shock when you enter colder open water.

5. Breathing Exercises:
Practice controlled breathing techniques to manage any initial anxiety or breathlessness caused by the cold water. Slow, rhythmic breathing can help you stay calm and focused during your swim.

6. Stay Hydrated and Nourished:
Proper hydration and nutrition play a crucial role in maintaining your body's ability to generate heat. Ensure you are well-hydrated and have consumed a balanced meal before heading into the water. 

7. Safety First:
Always swim with a buddy, and make sure someone onshore is aware of your plans. Cold water can be challenging, so it's crucial to prioritise safety. Familiarise yourself with the open water swim area, and be mindful of changing weather conditions.

8. Post-Swim Warm-Up:
Have warm, dry clothing ready for immediately after your swim. Warm up gradually, and consider bringing a flask of hot tea or coffee to help raise your core body temperature together a piece of cake.  Swimming in cold water burns calories so it is ok to have high energy food like cake as a well-earned reward after your swim.

Acclimatising to open water swimming in the UK may take time, but with patience, preparation, and a gradual approach, you can enjoy the incredible benefits of this outdoor activity. Remember to prioritise safety, listen to your body, and embrace the unique experience that open water swimming has to offer.



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