“After drop” is common after swimming in cold water; you get out and feel fine, and then you start to get colder, sometimes growing faint, shivering violently and feeling unwell.” (Outdoor Swimming Society)
Learning to head off the after drop is a key part of continuing to swim in cold water all year round. While in the cold water you can be lured into a false sense of security (numbness!) and stay in what turns out to be too long. With practice you learn your limitations (trial and error!) just how cold you are going to be about 10 minutes after getting out. You then learn to moderate your swim times and get out before you feel you have to. Then the key is warming up – slowly. If you have a hot shower for example the blood can run from your core (where it is working hard to maintain your core temperature and keep you alive!) to your skin and actually make your temperature drop along with your blood pressure – potentially making you feel faint and ‘stinging’ your skin.
As you start to warm up blood starts to recirculate in your extremities and peripheral blood vessels, cooling as it travels. You can lose up to 4.5°C from your core temperature. This is where you haramaki corewarmer comes in really really handy.
Tips to warm up after you get out of cold water:
- Get dressed as soon as you can. Preferably starting with the top half of your body. Use a haramaki. Use a robe to get dressed quicker and keep out of the wind.
- Put on a hat and gloves and have some tea from a flask you brought with you!
- Put on lots of layers. Haramaki, gloves, hat, thermals.
- Sip a warm drink: this helps warm the body gently from the inside.
- Eat something: sugar will help raise body temperature so have some cake!
- Sit in a warm environment: chance for more tea and more cake with your fellow swimmers….
- Walk around to generate body heat. It can take some time to warm properly. Running up and down the beach while waiting for your friends-who-faff can help.
For more information about acclimatising to cold water, the benefits and the risks go to the Outdoor Swimming Society
If you have any good tips please add in the comments 🙂