FIVE BENEFITS OF COLD-WATER SWIMMING
1 Acclimatisation. If you take nothing else away from this feature, take away the fact that cold dipping or swimming once a week throughout the winter will make things a lot easier come 2023’s triathlon season!
2 Theories suggest that regular open-water swimming results in a post-swim ‘high’, triggered by the release of beta-endorphins, dopamine and serotonin*. Think race finish-line feels without the need to actually race.
3 Facial immersion in cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, resulting in an antiinflammatory response. This is hypothesised to help with depressive disorders.*
4 The blue and green therapy you get from being around water and nature is not to be underestimated in making us feel good – especially at a time of year when we’re likely to be indoors much more. Take in those views and get some vitamin D into the bargain (maybe, if the sun comes out).
5 Other ‘soft’ benefits make open-water swimming good for the soul. Time around likeminded people, the sense of achievement for taking on a new challenge, plus sharing cake… All things that can give us a boost in the (often a bit meh) off-season.
* Taken from ‘Open water swimming as a treatment for major depressive disorder’ (2018), BMJ Publishing, Mike Tipton et al. Also reference Tipton et al (2022) ‘Cold water therapies: minimising risks’. Br J Sports Med 2022:1–3. doi: bjsports-2022-105953. ** Reference: Tipton, M. J. (2013) ‘Sudden cardiac death during open water swimming’. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 48(15):1134-5.