One positive to winter for open water swimmers is that sunrises are later, making swimrises – swimming at sunrise – more regularly achievable. If you’re thinking of giving it a go, we’ve got some tips you should be aware of.
Choose an east-facing swim spot
The sun rises in the east (and sets in the west), so the best sunrise swims will be at spots that face towards the east. Take a look at our Swim Spots map to get an idea of some east-facing spots.
Aim to arrive 30 minutes before sunrise time
The time on your sunrise calendar is when the sun should be visible, but the real colour show is generally before that. Arriving 30 minutes before sunrise should mean you are in the water when the sun appears, depending on how long you dip for. Obviously, as temperatures fall and swim times follow, you can arrive even later!
Clear skies are not paramount
Whilst a forecast for clear skies for your swimrise does ensure you will see the sun, it doesn’t necessarily mean the sunrise will be spectacular. Low clouds often obscure the colour show, but middle to high clouds can catch the light from the rising sun and reflect them back. Some of the most golden water is made from sunrise diffused through clouds.
Invest in an adventure light
Just like if you were cycling or driving, it’s good practice if swimming before dawn to swim with an adventure light. This is a small light that can attach to your goggles or tow-float, or be put inside a tow-float, to make you more visible from shore and to other water users.
Prepare to be extra cold!
Winter dipping is cold. Winter swimrise dipping is colder! Don’t get caught out. Wear a watch to monitor time in the water closely. Bring lots of extra layers for your top half, including a woolly hat and gloves. Bring something to stand on while you get changed, and a flask of hot drink or soup to enjoy in the morning sunshine.
And remember: Always get out of the water thinking you could have stayed in longer. You will continue to cool-down even after getting out – and often the air temperature and wind chill is colder than the water you were just submerged in.
For more tips and information about cold water dips, check out the RNLI’s guide.