Srikaanth Viswanathan is 46, living in Bangalore for the last 20 years. Born and raised in Chennai. An engineer by training. Have been in R&D divisions of various organizations like Philips, Honeywell & GE for the last 24+yrs.
“Oh! I will shiver…”
“No way, I will catch a cold..”
“Forget it, why would I want to wake up from my cozy bed in this cold weather, leave alone swim in the cold water? …”
“I think I will take up swimming next summer..”
These are some of the common conversations that I often hear around this time of the year. It is indeed a tough one for many of us to imagine getting into an outdoor pool during winter.. And I must confess that, I was also in the same boat many years ago. So, how did I start loving the cold water swims??
Most dreadful part for me has always been about having the pre-swim shower (the one outside near the pool) what with the overnight drop in temperature almost freezing the water lines.
But the good thing about it was that I would find the pool water relatively warmer after that bone chilling shower. Try it next time! I hate to see some people skipping the pre-swim shower & directly jumping into the pool for this reason. While they may have dodged a bullet there, they would have unintentionally contributed their might to polluting the pool with their sweaty bodies. More about the pool hygiene another time
I started to “like” the early morning cold water swims when I was swimming in one of the club pools in Bangalore many years ago
I didn’t believe when people told me that cold water swimming is addictive. I soon realized that my days were very different (dull & boring) when I didn’t get to swim in cold water. I also realized that swimming regularly for 1hr in winter helped me burn more calories due to increased body metabolism & this started impacting my body weight too. What better motivation does one need ??!!! Swimming in cold water also releases endorphins in our brain which is known to act as a mood elevator… yey! the much needed feel good factor !!
Cold water swimming became even more important for me when I started training for my relay English channel swim in 2014-15
With the water temperatures in English Channel easily in the range of 12-16 C (during the summer) & the outdoor pools being in the range of 20-22 C during peak winter in southern states of India, there was always an ocean of difference. When I did my solo swim in 2018, I reached Dover (UK) more than a month before my event to prepare for cold water adaptation. It took some time for me to condition the body (and my mind too!) to get used to the temperature shock. For the first few days, I could barely swim for 15-20mins in those cold waters and my fingers & toes would become numb quickly. But, after persisting for a few more days, my body started getting used to the cold conditions wonderfully and I was able to gradually increase my duration of practice swims in the sea. So, don’t give up right after the first day… Keep trying & you will start to enjoy the experience.
Some Tips From My Own Experience
- When you are in cold shower or in pool, our natural tendency is to shiver at first and our breathing becomes shallow. Be aware of this & try to take deeper longer breath. You will be amazed with its results.
- Try to get into the pool quickly. Many times people wade into the water very slowly and this makes them shiver more as the upper & lower bodies are experiencing different temperatures. I would recommend a quick complete immersion into the pool including the head as it equalizes the temperature all around. Better still, if you know diving, just take the plunge! Make sure pool is not shallow. Remember, safety first.
- Once inside the pool, AVOID standing/chatting. Immediately start swimming. This helps the body to get warmed up quickly.
- While swimming, be conscious of your body posture and relax your muscles. Helps avoid muscle cramps & injuries.
- Remember to have deeper longer breaths while swimming as this helps relax your muscles & enjoy your swim better.
- It also helps to have sips of warm water in the middle of the workout as it helps to keep the core of the body warm.
- Most importantly, as soon as you are done with swimming, quickly dry yourself up & wrap with a warm clothing covering your head with beanie cap /hood. This helps in heat retention of the body.
- It is advised NOT TO HAVE hot shower immediately after a cold water swim as this can cause the “after-drop” effect.
And hats off to my friends who dare the cold waters during winter and swim with me in the Kensington pool (NMSA) and elsewhere around the globe.. you continue to inspire me! Thanks. #DARETHECHILLWATER"
Come, give it a try! Enjoy the cold swim on a winter morning!!