Ahhh, tis the season of layering up for 30 degree temperature swings, hot coffee after a cold morning workout, and crunching your way through leaves on a long run. It's an endurance athlete's dream season: fall! Until...it gets to the swimming workout. With the state of the world this year, you may not be too keen to swim laps at your local indoor pool. This leaves two options: ditch the swimming (no one *really* likes to swim anyway, right?!) or buck up and brave the cold temps of a more natural swimming spot: your local river or lake. We called in our team swimming expert, Stacey, to give us the download on how to swim outside in cold weather.
Acclimate Yourself: Start Slow
Don't expect to dive in and swim for 45 minutes right away! Start by taking cold showers and gradually building up the duration of your swims. Stacey also suggests having an entrance routine. Some swimmers walk in and out of the water a few times to get their legs and core adjusted to the temperature. You can also rotate a few strokes between freestyle and backstroke to get your face acclimated. Or...just take the plunge! After about 5 minutes, your brain and body start to adjust and become comfortable in the water. If not, it might be time to call it a day. If the water is chilly but comfortable, a swim of 20 to 60 minutes can be euphoric (we'll take your word for it Stacey!)
Good Gear is Key
Add to your triathlon gear pile! Search for a full body triathlon wetsuit. It's more buoyant and less water seeps through the fabric. Stacey's pick is the Zoot Bolt wetsuit (men's style and women's style)
Cover that noggin with a neoprene cap. If you don't like having the strap, try doubling up with two silicone caps. Try adding in earplugs to block the cold water from your ears as well.
For even more warmth, get neoprene booties and gloves. A fair warning: the more gear, the more drag and reduced mobility you'll encounter.
And lastly, spray your goggles with anti-fog before heading into the water. You won't want to stop a lot in the water. A still body in cold water = a really cold body!
The safety measures you use with regular open water swimming? Amplify them for cold water swimming. Swim with a buddy or boater near by, or have a spotter on the shore. Use a swim buoy so you're easily visible (and can be used to rest on if you're in trouble). Don't go in deep into the water. Swim in shallow water (bonus: it tends to be a bit warmer!)
The most important thing to remember is that cold weather swimming is a very personal thing. Different bodies handle cold weather differently. If something feels off, this isn't the time to prove that you're hardcore. Stacey says a great safety test is to try tapping each finger to your thumb on both hands. If you can't tap your fingers, it's time to get out of the water.
Once you're done with the frigidness, treat yourself to all the cozy layers and a steaming hot cup of coffee or tea!