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20% of People Have a Genetic Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold

Almost one in five people lack the protein α-aktinin-3 in their muscle fiber. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now show that more of the skeletal muscle of these individuals comprises slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are more durable and energy-efficient and provide better tolerance to low temperatures than fast-twitch muscle fibers. The results are published in the scientific journal The American Journal of Human Genetics.

Skeletal muscle comprises fast-twitch (white) fibers that fatigue quickly and slow-twitch (red) fibers that are more resistant to fatigue. The protein α-aktinin-3, which is found only in fast-twitch fibers, is absent in almost 20 percent of people – almost 1.5 billion individuals – due to a mutation in the gene that codes for it. In evolutionary terms, the presence of the mutated gene increased when humans migrated from Africa to the colder climates of central and northern Europe.

Can Cold Water Cure Dementia?

New research suggests swimming in cold water could provide big brain benefits

If you took part in a polar plunge to clear the cobwebs and ring in the New Year feeling refreshed and ready, you might want to consider adding some more chilly splashes the rest of the year. It might not all be in your head—or maybe that brand-new feeling is in the very cells of your brain itself.

It seems there could be a connection between swimming in cold water and a healthier brain, according to new research led by Giovanna Mallucci, a professor of clinical neurosciences and associate director of the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. Her team has recently produced some compelling evidence that cold water swimming could slow age-related cognitive decline and maybe even hold the key to a future cure for dementia.

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.

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.

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…

Strokes of genius: swimmers’ guide to the UK coast

Rowan Clarke on Clevedon, Somerset

As an outdoor swimmer and swimming coach, Rowan is often found on the side of Clevedon Marine Lake giving guidance to all ability levels. She is on the Board of Trustees for Marlens, the charity that looks after the Marine Lake and a member of the South West Seals winter swimmers.

Channel Swim Abandoned Due To SIPE 2nd August 2016

Well that didn't go to plan. Instead of recovering from a celebratory Babycham in the White Horse in Dover I found myself in a hospital bed in Ashford on Sunday morning. My attempt to swim the English Channel was foiled in French inshore waters by Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE). I'd been airlifted from my support boat and was in a resuss bed.

The First 11 Hours

I started my Channel swim just after 7am on Saturday morning. The training had been done, it was a beautiful morning and weather was forecast to be improving. I had the pilot and crew that I wanted. I was raring to go. I was greased up in the mixture of sun cream and udder cream which it’s basically a mix of Vaseline and lanolin (good for cows and Channel swimmers and even better for Channel swimming cows). Over the side and a short swim to the beach at Samphire Hoe for the official start. A few Pilates moves on the beach and some wise motivational words to myself about not stopping until I hit France and I was off.

Fraaie weerkaarten

At the Ventuski website you will fine lovely weather maps. Animated wind and waves etc. worldwide (where info is available).

The Toughest Thirteen

13 extremely challenging swims for the advanced solo marathon swimmer. If the Oceans Seven are the “Everests” of open water, the Toughest Thirteen are the K2s.

The Toughest Thirteen (an MSF project) aims to inspire marathon swimmers to seek lesser-known, less frequently swum waters offering unique and extraordinary challenges. In 2019, over 200 swimmers have completed the Triple Crown, and many of the Oceans Seven swims have multi-year waiting lists. In contrast, for any of the T13 swims you may not have to wait longer than the next available good weather; and if you’re successful, you’ll be one of only a small handful.

Many of these swims have been DNF’d more often than finished!

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