Taking a dip in the sea on Christmas Day has become something of a tradition for many coastal dwellers up and down the country. If you decide to swap sitting around the open fire gorging on mince pies and mulled wine for the great icy waters outdoors this Christmas, here are some essential tips to follow.
Even if you are a regular summer sea swimmer, winter water temperatures can be a real shock to the system and wearing a winter wetsuit is advisable. A silicon swimming cap, gloves and even boots can also help to keep you that bit warmer.
Acclimatise yourself to the water gradually and take a deep breath out as you get into the water. This helps because the icy water can make your ribcage contract, giving the feeling that you are short of breath. Wait around 90 seconds before you start swimming so that your body is used to the water; however, once you get going, keep swimming to maintain your circulation. Naturally, the water will feel bitterly cold when you first immerse yourself, but you should warm up once you start swimming.
Stay close to the shore at all times. If you choose to swim on Christmas Day, pick a location where an organised swim is taking place so that there will be lifeguards and other people close at hand.
Even if you are totally set on going out for a Christmas Day swim, make sure the weather conditions do not compromise your safety in any way; in addition, check the tide times so you know what to expect when you get to the beach. Make sure you have had a sufficient amount to eat and drink beforehand to keep your energy levels topped up, but avoid alcohol prior to your swim.