Unless you are a genetic marvel like Lynne Cox (who swam to Antarctica without a cold water wetsuit), you are probably going to have to be proactive if you want to stay warm while swimming in cold water. Here are three things you can do to stay warm when you’re swimming in the open ocean, a lake, or your local pool when the heater goes out in the middle of winter.


Step1: Get the Gear


While plenty of people espouse the benefits of swimming without a wetsuit, some of us are just not designed to stay warm without a little help from our gear.


Wear a Cold Water Wetsuit

If you are frequently going swim in cold water, buy a cold water wetsuit. There are different kinds of wetsuits for different kinds of cold water activities. Some are made for surfing, some for diving, and some for triathlons. Get one designed for triathletes—they will minimally restrict your shoulder, hip, and knee movement.


The added bonus of a wetsuit: it will make you more buoyant. Added buoyancy, by definition, means you will ride higher in the water, experience less drag, and be able to swim faster. And, the faster you get to the end of your swim, the less time you’ll have to spend in that cold water!


Cover Your Head

Wearing a cap can help your body retain heat. A neoprene cap is the warmest. (Neoprene is wetsuit material.) And silicone, thanks to its thickness, is warmer than standard latex caps. Many, many people wear “double” caps: two silicones, one latex cap under a silicone one, or two latex caps. Wear a cap (or two!) when you’re headed to swim in cold water, and you will never have to roll your eyes at the sound of your mother saying, “If you think you are going to swim across the English Channel dressed like that….”


Consider Wearing Booties and Gloves

We’ve covered (pun intended) probably the biggest heat sink on your body: your head. But what about your hands and feet? Well, you can buy neoprene booties and gloves to keep those extremities warm. If you’ve ever jumped into a pool with shoes on, you know that at first it will feel weird to have your hands and feet covered. Then again, if the water is cold enough, you probably won’t care.


Step2: Get Moving


Pick Up Your Stroke Rate & Kick Faster

Swimming with a higher stroke rate and rapid kick will elevate your heart rate and your metabolism, which should keep you feeling warm. In a somewhat cold pool, it probably will not take much to counteract the chill of the water. Just know that if you stop between sets the cold will creep in faster than you might expect. Especially if you are swimming in open water, don’t overdo it! You want to make sure you have enough energy to finish your swim and that you are swimming with the best possible technique.


Step3: Get on Your Back & Breathe


Most of the time your body just needs a couple of minutes to adjusts to the cold water. All those nerves in your face are extremely sensitive. Swimming head-down freestyle in super-cold water may be making you feel colder than you actually are. Plus, cold water on your face can stimulate your body’s automatic “cold water shock” response, which is the source of those shallow, almost-panicky breaths you feel like you have no choice but to take.


Take control of your breathing with one or all of these tricks.


Do Backstroke

Take a moment on your back to get your breathing under control. By turning on your back, you are getting your ultra-sensitive face out of the water. It should only take a few seconds on your back for your breathing to calm down. (Although, true, those few seconds may feel more like minutes.)


Switch between Freestyle & Backstroke

If you find that you can swim backstroke but not freestyle, try flipping onto your back to breathe, instead of breathing to the side. Do as much backstroke as you need to return to regular breathing again. As your body adjusts to the cold, you’ll need fewer and fewer strokes on your back. Once you are down to only two strokes of backstroke, try swimming a few strokes of head-up freestyle when you need a breath. After taking a few head-up breaths, you will probably be ready to resume your usual freestyle.


Remember the Basics

Swimming in cold water does not have to be torturous. Get some gear to help you stay warm, always keep moving, and try to take control of your breathing. Do those three things, and you’ll be a warmer, happier cold-water swimmer!


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Article Source: https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-stay-warm-in-cold-water