How Cold Water Swimming Improves Stress Management

Mental Health, 'Loony Dookers' and Polar Bears

Here in Scotland, ‘Loony Dookers’ dive into the chilly waters of the Forth Estuary on New Year’s Day, whilst members of the Polar Bear Club in New York take an Atlantic dip. Perhaps you did too? Similar events are held all around the world from Vilnius to Vancouver...

Whilst a few hardy souls have always taken to chilly waters all year round, the niche ‘sport’ of swimming in freezing waters is becoming increasingly popular. But why? It’s hard to fathom unless you are already a believer.

Stressed by COVID-19? Can Cold Swims or Cold Showers Help?

An examination of the mental health benefits of cold water immersion

The COVID-19 crisis continues unabated, and many jurisdictions still have social distancing regulations in place. This is concerning, as considerable research indicates that social activities can foster positive mental health.

As such, individuals may need to engage in innovative activities to reduce stress and promote their own mental health. Two activities which may be particularly suitable to some people are cold swims or cold showers; not ice cold, but in the 16-20 Degree Celsius (60-70F) range—as opposed to the unnaturally warm temperatures of heated swimming pools.

Fundamentals of Open Water Rescue

Fins and Rescue Flotation Devices: A Winning Combination

Give its extensive history, the fire service is fairly new to the open water rescue. As more people have the means to venture into the open water with wave runners, kayaks, two- day scuba classes, and stand-up paddle boards, firefighters are often thrust into the role of open water rescuer. A few municipalities—Ventura County, California; Bay County, Florida; Kauai County, Hawaii; Pierce County, Washington; New York City; and Sea Bright, New Jersey–have fire departments that have made successful water rescues for decades even before modern lifeguard services were available.

Over the last 20 years several municipalities have absorbed lifeguard operations. City of San Diego, Los Angeles County, and Miami Beach lifeguards perform their duties under command of the fire department using equipment that was designed and procedures that were developed long before falling under the umbrella of the fire service. Whether you are a firefighter rescue swimmer or lifeguard paramedic, rescue fins and a modern rescue flotation device (RFD) should be readily available for open water rescue.

Your guide to getting out of neoprene for open water swimming

Polly Madding looked out across the Boston Harbor in 2017 and wondered why she couldn’t swim there. A little research later, she learned that she actually could and signed up for her first open water event on June 4, 2017. She purchased a sleeveless wetsuit for the occasion and had a wonderful time, except for the massive chaffing she experienced on the back of her neck.

Since that first open water swim, though, Madding has gradually relied less and less on a wetsuit, and she has set her sights on a few open water swimming events that prohibit the use of wetsuits. She loves the freedom of being in open water without a protective layer of neoprene. “You can feel the water so much better” without a wetsuit, she says.

What We Think About When We're Swimming

In an excerpt from her new book 'Why We Swim,' Bonnie Tsui explores the ways that immersion can radically shift our perspective.

Most days, if I’m not in the ocean for a surf at first light, I get into the neighborhood pool by 8:30 A.M. Even when there’s frost on the ground, the water is warm. Unless you’re the lifeguard, blowing the whistle when you want me to get out, I don’t know you exist. For 60 blessed minutes and 3,200 yards, I’m my only audience. In a pool there’s nothing much to look at once the goggles fog over. I have spit and sprayed all manner of antifog fixes into them, and none has kept the mist from creeping up on my vision like cataracts. But I’m OK with that. Sound? The sloshing of water pretty much cancels out everything else. Taste and smell are largely of the chlorine and salt variety—though, at my old pool, I used to smell burgers cooking from the café downstairs. Nowadays I get whiffs of eggs and hash browns from the high school cafeteria next door. Despite all the tech advances of the last few years, you won’t see many swimmers wearing earphones or bone-conduction music devices: they just don’t work that well.

More lies, damn lies and statistics…

To battle the boredom, I often design different pieces of channel swimming analysis whilst I swim…here are a few recent pieces of analysis:

Is this the best/worst season ever? This season the water temperature rose quickly and the weather was generally sunny without significant wind. As a result a lot of the Dover trainees seemed to get away early…so my perception was that it was turning into a stellar season. But was this perception or reality…back to the database to find the facts…

Cold water swimming advice from an Ice Mile expert

In a few weeks, Outdoor Swimmer's very own English channel soloist and ice kilometre challenger, Joanne, will be heading to Cheltenham to swim what she hopes will be her first ice kilometre swim at the Great British IISA Championships. She’s been chatting with Kate Steels throughout the winter and recently visited her at Andark lake.

Kate is the GB chair of the International Ice Swimming Association, event director of the championships at Cheltenham and an accomplished ice and marathon swimmer. Kate is one swim away from becoming the first British person, and third person ever, to complete Ice Sevens – completing an ice mile swim in every continent – with just a swim in South America needed to complete what will be an incredible feat. She's swimming in memory of her son Dan.

After-drop is real – and how to deal with it

If you have spent any time hanging around open water swimmers you may have heard the term “after-drop”. If you’ve done any swimming in cool water, you may have experienced it. For the uninitiated, after-drop refers to the decline in your core body temperature after you have got out of the water.

When you swim in cool water the body cleverly tries to protect vital organs by reducing blood flow to the skin and limbs. Thus the core stays warm while the skin, arms and legs cool down. The process is known as peripheral vasoconstriction.

Cancer survivor is first person to swim the Channel four times non-stop

American Sarah Thomas, 37, tests limits of endurance by swimming the EC 4 times in 54 hours

An American woman has become the first person to swim the Channel four times non-stop, dedicating her achievement to fellow survivors of breast cancer.

Sarah Thomas, 37, began her marathon feat at 12.07am BST on Sunday morning and finished just over 54 hours later at 6.30am on Tuesday.

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