Updated: May 31
How to get into Cold Water Dipping
I've been cold water dipping now for three years, an avid surfer and paddle boarder you think I would be used to cold water and love it. Ermmm not exactly!
Fact of the matter is I hate the cold, cold weather and cold water equally. I should have been born in warmer climates like Australia but nope I am Welsh to the core, therefore I had to learn to adapt and overcome my hate for the cold. I set up the Salty Dog Dippers three years ago and the feel good vibes have spread far and wide and as our community grows, I want to share with you some of the tips and answers to the many questions I get asked daily.
So in this blog I simply want to share that to dip you don't have to love the cold you just need to trick your mind into thinking warm thoughts, combined with positive powerful mindset. Re-train your brain, take control, be a better you.
Step One - Show up
The biggest fear is the fear of meeting with a group of unknown people, being accepted as the outsider the newbie the clueless one. Its not even the thought of the cold, its pure and simple you are outside your comfort zone. So, what I tell people is to simply pack a bag of everything you would need and just turn up. Get an insight for what happens, meet the people (trust me they've all been where you are right now). See what kit they have that you would need, see how far out they go in the sea, ask questions. This way you will feel far more confident on your next visit.
Step Two - Suck it up
So you have the crew and you've got your kit. Now all you need to do is mentally prepare yourself to strip down to your swimwear. This is at first a biggy for most people. The thing you need to tell yourself is NO ONE CARES, there is absolutely no judgement on what you wear or how good you wear it. We come in all shapes and sizes, and you'll quickly realize that this cold water dipping will also not only help you mentally but it will also give you more body confidence to just accept you are who you are and EMBRACE IT!
Step Three - The walk down
The walk down to the sea is very much dependent on the tides, some walks can be long whilst others a few steps and your in. I have seen some people start the walk and freeze with fear and walk back. REMEMBER.....you've done the hard work by showing up and getting undressed.........the best is yet to come. Don't let your mind tell you that you cant do something because this is something you can do, so keep telling yourself I GOT THIS! Your fellow dippers will help you and encourage you as well as look after you.
Step Four - Learn to relax
As your feet enter the water it will send a strong message to your brain telling you that MAN THAT'S COLD. It is now we need to focus on retraining our brains to embrace that feeling and change the message. We do this by focusing on steady deep breathing. In doing this we are able to relax and tell our brain IT'S OK I GOT THIS! This will allow the blood to continue to pump through our bodies with ease so we are able to function. Panicking and stress will constrict our blood vessels and make everything far harder for ourselves. BREATHE!
Step Five - Full Submersion
As a newbie I would encourage you to only go in as deep as you feel comfortable and confident too. Remember if your with a group you all look out for each other so your safer. However, if your not comfortable to go in as deep as others stay within your comfort zone. Getting beyond your waist is always the hardest, when cold water hits your kidneys it can take your breath away, so again remember nice slow and controlled breaths. Continue to get enough water under you so that you are able to place your shoulders under the water. It is here that you will get the best benefits and hide away from any cold chilling wind. Remind yourself I GOT THIS the worst part is done, now we allow our bodies to adjust to the temperature change, within moments you wont feel the cold and you'll find that warmth of the water (TRUST ME THIS WILL HAPPEN).
Step Six - Know your limits
So rule of thumb (water temp = time in water)
What does this mean? So what ever the temperature is, say 6 degrees, you equal that time spent in the water, so 6 minutes.
It is therefore handy to pick up a thermometer to take along to dips to allow you to monitor how long you should stay in the water for to avoid hyperthermia (which can be a real risk if you don't monitor this equation safely). The more experienced at dipping you become then the longer you can expose yourself to longer times spent in cold water, as you learn to understand the affects on your body. If you are cold but haven't reached your time then listen to your body and get out and get warm. There are no rules to say you need to do a set time, running in and out is still classed as a dip.