Cold Water Swimming Articles Index

Cold water swimming is difficult and requires repetition. By exploring the many aspects of cold, environmental, physiological and psychological, I hope to help you understand cold better and therefore become a more confident cold water swimmer. These articles are intended to help swimmers adapt to cold water swimming.

It is really important to note that most of us are not naturally good at tolerating cold. (I certainly am not). Cold should be seen as something you train for, the same as any other aspect of your swimming.

This page is an index of my cold articles with a very brief explanation of the article so you can scan the entire list for what is most relevant.

WHY would anyone swim in cold water? Trying to answer one of the LEAST asked question about cold water swimming.

The Reverie of Cold. The most personal article I’ve written on cold water swimming.

Cold Water Habituation. The process of getting used to getting into cold water. The original article was written in 2010 and was the first cold water article I ever wrote. It has been largely rewritten and updated.

Cold Water Acclimatization. The process of developing tolerance for staying in cold water. The original article was written in 2010 and was the second cold water article I ever wrote. It has been extensively rewritten.

Cold Shock Response and the Mammalian Diving Reflex in Cold Water Swimming – Positive & Negative Feedback Systems. Looking for a synthesis of physiological responses to cold water.

“I just can’t handle the cold”. Part 1, Part 2 (What is the Vagus nerve and why is it important?), Part 3 (Fear). This is a phrase I hear a lot. Why this belief is irrelevant and why you, and I, are not special when it comes to cold.

One of my hypothermia experiences. It happens to us all. That’s part of the deal.

How To: Prepare for cold water swim. Practical precautions around cold water swimming.

Prepare, Monitor, Recover. A short article on part of experienced cold water swimmers’ ethos.

Men, women and cold. Understanding gender differences in cold water exposure.

Brown Fat vs. white fat. Interesting and very relevant recent scientific findings that have direct relevance to cold water swimmers.

Brown Fat. A revised version of the previous post.

Merino wool, my favourite cold weather clothes for per & post swimming.

“What temperature of water is too cold to swim in”. The most common search term into this site.

“What temperature of water is too cold to swim in” Redux. An updated version of the above post with a fuller list of factors affecting the answer.

The cumulative effective of cold water swimming. How it feels to swim in really cold water for many consecutive days.

Six hour swim in sub-eleven degree water. The second toughest swim I’ve ever done.

Christmas and New Year’s Day swim advice. Comprehensive advise for irregular swimmers in cold water. Applies to any irregular swims and swimmers.

Extreme Cold Water Adaptation in Humans. A five-part series trying to tease out all the various factors  of cold adaptation. Part 1 Asking the questions about individual variability, Part 2 (habituation and acclimatization), Part 3  (metabolic responses), Part 4 (further physiological responses), Part 5 (conclusion).

How we FEEL cold water. Concerning the body’s thermo-receptive response to cold water.

Always wear a belt. Lessoned learned and sometimes forgotten about cold.

Peripheral vaso-constriction. The bodies primary physiological response to cold, in picture.

Wearing a watch. The primary safety device on cold water.

The important of stroke and the deficiencies of Total Immersion type swimming in cold water. Following the wrong advice for cold water is dangerous. Stroke rate is very important.

“Is the water too cold to swim”? Another different take on this popular question.

Winter. I like it. I hate it. The dichotomy of a cold water swimmer’s thoughts.

Introducing a Precise Open Water Temperature Scale. This site’s most popular article.

Come with me on this cold water swim. As close as I can take you to my experiences of swimming in cold water during the Irish winter.

Cold water swimming and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Another experiential post of cold water swimming, with some musing.

Understanding the Claw. What is the Claw and why do cold water swimmers get it?

“Where did my Claw go?”  Further discussion on the Claw amongst experienced swimmers, the Claw being a common occurrence for cold water swimmers.

How To – Understanding Mild Hypothermia in swimmers. To address hypothermia, it is best to understand it. Mild hypothermia is more common than not amongst cold water swimmers.

How To – Understanding Moderate and Severe Hypothermia in swimmers. There’s nothing moderate about Moderate hypothermia.

How To – Diagnosing and addressing Moderate Hypothermia in swimmers. Understanding cold for support crew.

Cold water and cold immersion shock, the first three minutes. It’s really important to uunderstand what happens to the body in the vital first few minutes of swimming in cold water.

Speaking as a Coldologist… Analysing (and debunking) a claim to cold adaptation through meditation.

Cold water swimming and alcohol. They don’t mix and are a dangerous combination. This is important.

Loneswimmer returns from the sea, with the commandments of cold water swimming
Loneswimmer returns from the sea, with the commandments of cold water swimming

The Ten Commandments of Cold Water Swimming. I am the prophet of cold! :-)

Ice Miles: My First Attempt, Part One (The swim). My First Attempt, Part Two (Post swim and analysis). My Second Attempt. Ciarán Byrne’s report of the successful Lough Iochtar Ice Mile.

What is Cold Water Diuresis in swimmers? Another physiological response to cold explained.

The relevance of shivering in cold water swimming. Yet another important to understand physiological response to cold.

The Magic Number. A consideration of transitional temperatures in cold water swimming.

Ice Mile Dilemmas. One year, another ice Mile attempt and what seemed an inevitable destination for a cold water swimmer and writer. It become my longest ever series because of the seriousness of the pursuit.

Part 1 – The Trap – Why I felt I had to complete or at least attempt an Ice Mile.

Part II – Surprisingly Cold. My first unsuccessful attempt in 2013.

Part III – Black Rain. An honest recounting  of my successful Ice Mile swim in 2014.

Ice Mile Dilemmas IV – Local Context. Looking at local problems with Ice Mile swimming in Ireland that demonstrate the IISA’s lack of commitment to safety and rules.

Ice Mile Dilemmas V – Rule 1 – Something Terrible Is Going To Happen. First of a three-part critique of the IISA rules and guidelines, following a discussion with many Ice Mile and cold water swimmers around the world.

Ice Mile Dilemmas VI – Rules 2 – Safety and Experience. Continuing the rules and guidelines discussion, asking why the IISA doesn’t experience guidelines.

Ice Mile Dilemmas VII – Rules 3 – Failure To Apply Best Practice. The third part of the rules discussion, pointing to the IISA’s failure to apply Best Practice.

Ice Mile Dilemmas VIII – The Dangers. Outlining the very real dangers of extreme cold water swimming.

Ice Mile Dilemmas IX – Safety is Everything. The last article lists a number of urgent recommendations the IISA must implement to put safety at its core.

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