What to expect on your first Winter Swim

You’ve seen the hoards bobbing along on your coastal walks and now you want to dip your toe to see what all the fuss is about? Here’s what to expect on your first winter swim in Ireland.

Getting in hurts!

No matter how slowly you acclimatise, getting in hurts. It’s stingy and cutting. But this will pass!

Once you have safely submerged (you absolutely do not have to put your head in!), get moving and keep moving, staying where you can stand and close to shore.

After you’ve been moving for 1-2 minutes, the real stinging should be replaced by a glowing feeling. Enjoy that for another minute, then it’s time to get out before that also passes!

It’s not the water that’s the problem

The water is cold, no doubt about it, but more often than not the ground, air and/or wind is even colder than any Irish water in winter.

Look after your poor feet by getting something dry to stand on while you change. Get a windproof changing robe. Bring gloves, a neck warmer or scarf and a woolly hat.

Consider neoprene boots and gloves for in the water. Think about a neoprene hat.

And above all else, when you get out, prioritise dressing over everything! No chats. No tea stops. Get completely dressed first.

There’s this thing called ‘afterdrop’

Unfortunately being in the water is not actually the coldest you could be. Your body temperature continues to cool down until you start warming it up.

Which is why we stress that you need to get dressed asap, add more layers than you took off, and get a warm drink or soup into you, along with an energy rich snack – like cake!

You will be on a high for hours

Winter swimming awakens every inch of your insides and outsides. You will get out feeling energised and giddy!

This feeling continues through all the shivers as you warm up with cosy cuppas and chats with your swim pals. It goes on for hours!

And then you need a nap!

Getting that cold and all the energy it takes to warm up means that once you have got inside and finally warmed up, often, you just conk out on the sofa!

It’s such a satisfying feeling, knowing you’ve now fully absorbed that experience of the elements and the high has passed.

Then it’s just time to plan the next one!

If you’ve read this far and are now looking for that push to get into winter dipping, we recommending joining one of our Weekly Dippers sessions and also taking on the Deeswimber Challenge to support the Irish Cancer Society.

This event is run by Swim Ireland Open Water Ambassador Dee Newell and asks those taking part to donate €20 to the Irish Cancer Society then commit to 20 Dips in December.

Anyone who registers by donating gets to join the Deeswimber mailing list, which provides updates, tips and goodies throughout December!

You can get cracking with Deeswimber by heading to JustGiving!

For more Winter Dipping advice:

RNLI | Top Tips for Better Cold Water Dips

Winter Dipping Safety in Ireland | Swim Ireland

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