A Guide to Outdoor Swimming in Winter

A Guide to Outdoor Swimming in Winter

By Anita Rosebury

| Oct 19 , 2020

If you’re anything like us then you’re probably not feeling confident about your swim fitness at all. 

Usually, at the end of summer, we have months of swimming outdoors under our belts, supplemented by some indoor pool training as well - and we may have even squeezed in one or two distance swimming events.

But not this year. This year has been all about the Coronavirus, meaning our outdoor activities have been severely limited. Some of us have been constrained by where and when we could swim, while others have had access to re-opened pools and safe water sites.  So, how do we start anew now that lockdown is easing?

Where to start?

If you’ve not swum all summer, and/or you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered from the COVID-19 virus then don’t start off with the mindset of swimming for training purposes. Instead, focus on swimming for health and wellbeing, paying special attention to sleeping well and eating right to help your recovery.

Instead of focusing on high-intensity training for a specific event, consider focusing on all of the exciting swim adventures available for you to enjoy. It's been a tough year for many, be kind to yourself - you’re doing the best you can in a set of unprecedented circumstances.

How to get going

There is no better time to start than now! Grab your booicore changing towel and head out.

First things first, you should focus on technique. Give yourself a few weeks to master the three key elements involved:

  • A strong and effective arm action to power you through the water
  • Bilateral breathing to help you feel in control and relaxed
  • In-rhythm body roll which allows you to slice through the water - keeping everything balanced and in sync

As you’re practising these techniques, keep in mind how they make you feel rather than what you look like - it’s all about making swimming outdoors easier for you.

Suggested Training Plan

Through the winter, we like to stick to two or three outdoor swims a week (as time allows). Our swims aren’t too long or too hard, and we make sure that they’re consistent and allow us time to fit in everything else in our life.

We try and fit in:

  • One short open water dip, helping our bodies to acclimatise in lakes, rivers and seas
  • One standard swim of about an hour at a strong, steady pace - that doesn’t wear us out
  • One longer swim that is a little further than we would normally go - trying to add on around 10 minutes a week to our swim time, but keeping our pace steady

We also try to do some pilates or yoga to help our bodies stay mobile, as well as having a day of rest. We wouldn’t want to overdo it!

What to do if it can’t be done

We still don’t know what’s going to happen for the rest of the year. Coronavirus lockdown measures are changing weekly, meaning swim times may be limited and the number of people allowed in pools may be limited as well.

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t go swimming - either indoors or outdoors - then don’t worry, there are alternatives:

  • Try running or mountain biking as a form of aerobic exercise, as this will help you get back up to speed quickly when you can go swimming again.
  • Keep up your yoga and pilates, and make sure you are stretching your muscles regularly
  • Maintain cold water dipping as long as it’s safe to do so
At the end of the day, it is all about staying safe and enjoying your swimming adventures.