We don't know about you but we sigh a huge sense of relief when spring has sprung, the sign that we've made it through the darker winter months and the daylight is returning with the days starting to be longer than the nights. The sunshine has been making an appearance lately, giving us a taster for those long, warmer days to come.
So it's understandable that it makes you feel like summer is on its way and that the water will be suitably inviting. But this is deceptive!
To help you on your way with wild swimming during the spring months, we have gathered together our Top Tips for Wild Swimming in Spring. Always enter the water with caution and be prepared with the right kit.
Check the water temperatures
It is so easy to assume that the water temperatures will have increased already, especially when you feel that warm sunshine shining down. But do not be fooled, water temperatures lag behind the land temperatures and quite considerably. For example, the other day it was 18 degrees outside whereas the sea temperature was still a chilling 8 degrees centigrade.
We use the Magic Seaweed App to check the sea temperatures before we go in or you can buy a thermometer which will take water temperatures and most managed lakes will have the temperature displayed somewhere. Or, ask around with other swimmers, it's well worth knowing what temperature the water you are going into.
Wear the right kit
When you're able to whip off your jumper whilst on land and bask in that sunshine, it's so easy to think you won't need your winter swim kit anymore. But we advise not to ditch your winter swimming set up just yet. Keep wearing what you did in the winter months, so whether that's a wetsuit like the Zone 3 Women's Aspect Wetsuit or the Zone 3 Men's Agile Wetsuit and their heat tech boots and gloves or your wetsuit jacket or thermocline long sleeve swimsuit. Now is not the time to start ditching those layers which keep you safe whilst swimming in cold waters.
Get in slowly, don't dive in!
Do not jump, dive or get in too quickly. You want to gradually enter the water whilst controlling your breathing, taking slooooow, deep breaths. Splash your face, arms and back of the neck with water as you go in, so your body starts to acclimatise and builds up to being in the cold water.
Be aware of what cold water shock is, which is when the cold water causes the blood vessels in the skin to shrink causing the blood flow to reduce and heart rate to increase. This in turn means the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body increasing the blood pressure. Breathing rates will increase as you enter the water and your natural reaction is to gasp for breath.
Do not stay in too long and know your limits
It may be tempting to get carried away and stay in longer than you should, especially on days when the sun is beating down on you whilst in the water. But remember, that your body is submerged in sub 10 degrees water, which is cold and has a massive affect on your body. Play it safe, always, and keep an eye on how long you have been in. Always err on the side of caution and get out sooner than you need to. Now is not the time to try and increase your swim times.
Warming up post-swim
Check out the weather conditions, if it's a windy day or overcast and rainy, this will have an affect on your body not only when in the water but also when you get out and are trying to get changed and warm up.
When you get out of the water, get out of your wet things as soon as possible, get dry and layer up with warm clothes including some warm headwear. It is not uncommon for Tam to be wearing up to 10 layers after a swim, her motto is you can never have too many clothes, it's better to have more than less.
A changing robe is a godsend to whip on when you get out of the water, it will keep the elements at bay, keep you warm as you get changed under it and avoid any accidental flashes to those around you!
Top tip - before we go in for a swim, we make sure all our clothes are around the right way (not inside out) and we organise them so that they are in the right order to get changed back into them. It is hard enough trying to get changed when you are cold and your fingers don't work, let alone having to rummage around in your bag trying to find your underwear! Or, do what we often have, go commando!
Do you know After Drop is? It is when your body temperature continues to drop even after you have exited the water. This means you will continue to get colder for even up to 40 minutes after you have come out of the water. This is why it is SO important to not wait until you feel cold before getting out of the water and to get out of your wet swim kit, dry yourself and layer up with dry warm clothes as soon as possible.
Some of our favourite ways to warm up post-swim are:
1. Have a hot drink and something sweet to eat
2. Do a litter pick
3. Have a little dance
4. Play bat and ball or throw a frisbee with a friend
5. Have a hot water bottle or even better wear a Snug Bud, the wearable hot water bottle. We love Snug Buds, it makes it so easy to warm up post swim and you can be hands free to pack up your kit or keep hold of your hot drink.