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8 Cold Water Swimming "Essentials"

I started cold water in February 2022 & instantly fell in love with it. Over the last 16 months I've curated my cold water swimming "essentials", items that I take with me each & every time I brave the icy waters & as this is something I have received quite a few questions about I thought I'd share my list here for you.

Important Note - Please remember you don't actually NEED any of the below to start cold water swimming. The first few times I went I literally just wore my swimming costume in the sea & a coat I already had to wrap up in afterwards & that experience left me feeling good enough to want to come back again for more! I want to point this out as I believe cold water swimming should be & feel accessible to as many people as possible. Sea swimming is a free activity, you DO NOT NEED to spend lots of money on expensive clothing or equipment to enjoy it & feel the benefits. I definitely find the whole experience more enjoyable now I have this tool kit to keep me warmer, safer & more comfortable but I still had a blast without, that's what got me hooked in the first place after all so please don't let it stop you of you don't have access to all of the items listed here!

1. Neoprene socks - Honestly my number one item on this list! We all know we loose the most heat from our extremities & therefore these seem to feel the coldest fastest. As your feet are generally the first thing to go into the water I have found these to be the biggest game changer for me, allowing me to stay in the water longer, plus they make walking on a pebble beach that much easier as they provide padding against the stones.

I'm currently using a fairly cheap pair of 3mm Neoprene socks (the first item I bought after my first few cold water swims). I started with these, one- because I wasn't really sure what I was looking for & two - because I didn't want to spend huge amounts of money on something I wasn't 100% sure on whether I was going to keep up. I've had these socks just over a year now & although they've done the job so far they are now beginning to fall apart slightly around the hemline & are becoming loose around my leg so although I'm linking them here for reference I wouldn't necessarily recommend buying this brand.

2. Neoprene Gloves - Also a pretty big game changer for me as I found without the gloves on, on really cold days I was simply standing in the water with my hands in the air because my fingers were to cold to bare. I've only had the Alder Matrix gloves for around six months (recommended to me by a friend who surfs regularly) & I must say I'm pretty happy with them. I think eventually I'll look for a pair which are made from a more sustainable material but in the meantime whilst these are still in good condition I'll be wearing them for my swims.

3. Wetsuit Top - This is one of the more expensive item on the list, so definitely one for those of you who are regular cold water swimmers, ready to make an investment in a piece that you'll get use out of time & time again. I opted for the Finisterre Nieuwland 2e Yulex® Long Sleeve Top - it features a zip up front making it super easy to take on & off, warm coverage, feels supportive plus it's made from "natural rubber, manufacturing this wetsuit jacket produces up to 80% less CO2 than using traditional neoprene."-

Side note - I went nearly an entire year cold water swimming before purchasing one of these so probably the least "essential" item here. However if you're serious about cold water swimming it may be worth your while purchasing one as it really has made the extra cold days more enjoyable for me!

4. Changing Robe - Definitely the item that I get the most use out of on this list because not only do I wear it to & from my swims but also everywhere else! My changing robe from Passenger is warm & cosy with it's fleece lining, practical for changing on the beach & gets me compliments nearly every time I wear it because of it's fun colour. Again not the cheapest of items listed here but I have literally worn this everywhere from the beach to, run errands, to work & even out to dinner with friends so I'm certainly getting my moneys worth.

Please note the item linked here is Sherpa lined (which my one is not) I think the Orange/ Rust fleece lined robe I do have is currently out of stock (at time of writing).

5. Warm clothes for during/afterwards (hat, scarf, gloves etc) - Technically more than one item but I'm grouping them all together. A woolly hat is great for both during & after your swim, again helping to keep our extremities covered (for extra safety in the water choose a bright colour) . I personally love Outside In as their hats are incredibly warm & for every item you purchase from them they donate an item of clothing to the homeless.

Gloves & thick socks for after your swim will help heat your entire body up & add to that cosy feeling. I also sometimes bring a neck warmer (or scarf) to keep any potential draft from my neck whilst on the beach post-swim.

Bonus tip for my fellow dreadheads - I've also recently started using my neck warmer as a head warmer whilst in the water (instead of a hat) as I was struggling to get all my dreadlocks up into my hat to keep them dry. With the neck warmer I can tie up my hair on top of my head & my head & ears still stay warm, win!

6. Microfibre Towel - Whether the water is cold or not, micro-fibre towels are honestly just good to have if you're a swimmer out & about as they are super quick drying & generally fairly lightweight & compact which make them great for travelling. I got mine from Mountain Warehouse.

7. Snacks - I don't know about you but I find cold water swimming always makes me a bit peckish after I'm done. I like to bring one or two snacks with me for after my swim, perhaps a piece of fruit or savoury snack such as popcorn. Something relatively easy to handle whilst your fingers warm up.

8. Hot Drink - Once you're all dried off & cosied up in your dry robe there is nothing better than a cup of something hot heating you up from the inside whilst you sit & watch the waves, basking in that post swim energy. I normally take a herbal tea with me to help me feel more grounded after being in the water but it can be anything you fancy from matcha or coffee to hot chocolate or chai.

So there you have it my 8 cold water swimming "essentials". I hope you've found this useful & please note this is by no means an exhaustive list, some of you may find this to be a little excessive. In warmer months for example, I may not take/ wear my wetsuit top as going in in my swimsuit would be enough, there really is no right or wrong here, after the safety precautions it really is all just down to personal preference. Using whatever items make the experience most enjoyable for you is the most important thing. Some of you may have things that aren't on my list that you simply cannot go cold water swimming without, if that's you I'd love to hear more about that in the comments!



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