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the sea and in lakes pret y much everyday, year round. People who become long distance swimmers in the UK oſt en adhere to ‘Channel Swimming Rules’, which is a standard costume, one swimming cap (non-neoprene), goggles and Vaseline smeared in the areas that rub. Such people become acclimitized to the UK’s water temperatures, and are not – as some might like to think – super- humans who laugh in the face of hypothermia and sleep on a bed of ice cubes. It takes time, a lot of motivation and hard work to build up for long cold water swims. For example, for my training for the World Cold Water Swimming Championships, I swam outdoors most days all through the winter. Days when there are ice and snow are actually the easier days to go for a dip, as it's novel and exciting. It is October and November it can feel especially tough, when it’s grey, wet and miserable. It's good that you have a lit le bit of weight – some people are naturally bet er insulated than others, and this makes a diff erence on long swims. There are several training camps at the start of the season that


you can now go on to get used to swimming in colder water for long distances. These tend to be for people wanting to gain their six- hour cold water swimming certifi cate for the English Channel. I've been on one just for the ‘fun’ of it, for pre-season training. Swimming twice a day at weekends early season is a good way to build up time in the water (one hour in the morning and two hours in the aſt ernoon) then a lit le longer on the following day is something that those training for the Channel will experience early season in Dover. As it gets warmer you do a long swim on one day and a lit le longer the next day.


READER EXPERTS


It's not just H2Open's writers who have great knowledge of open water swimming – many of our readers do too; you have only to visit our


Facebook page to see this (facebook.com/H2Open). Why not put your question to our ready made community of H2Open experts on Facebook?


A reader is looking for booties for a long-distance cold water swim. They're not something we've ever tested at H2Open. Can anyone recommend any?


Manda Read: I'd say you want something thick enough to keep the feet warm but not too thick that they compromise foot shape for kicking. If fl exibility is more important than warmth I'd suggest buying socks rather than boots, as boots' ridged bot om reduces fl exibility.


Katia Vastiau: I'd defi nitely recommend socks over booties. Blueseventy have brilliant neoprene socks, but there are plenty from other manufacturers too.


Sara Newman: I agree – socks. I have Blueseventy Ones and some Sailfi sh ones, both of which are good.


Martin Turner: I have a pair of neoprene socks from Decathlon which are excellent – and a lot cheaper – than the Blueseventy ones.


Andrea Lois Tucker: I bought a pair of Skins lined socks (goo.gl/qvXet) and swam through the winter in them, and had toasty feet.


Corrina Thomson: Avoid neoprene booties, as they are far too buoyant.


Carrie Power: Orca Hydrobooties are great.


The cold-water training regimen I followed is one that you could too. Here's a break-down of it:


1. Swim with a group of people, so there are others to keep and an eye on one another, and to motivate each other to get in the water, and to make cups of tea when you get out.


2. Monitor the temperature of the water, to build an understanding of your limits regarding the distances you are comfortable swimming in various temperatures.


3. As the water temperature drops, shorten your distance accordingly. This way you can swim through the winter, and it is amazing how good you feel as the temperature starts climbing.


4. Set occasional targets that stretch you – and make sure you have someone monitoring you during these swims.


5. In summer, take longer swims but develop the same understanding of what temperature you can safely swim in as you did for winter.


Finally, here are some commonsense rules for swimming in cold water:


1. Know your limitations. Gradual acclimatisation will help with this. 2. Do not jump into cold water, and don't see how far you can swim until you are too cold to go on. Build up to longer cold swims gradually.


3. Don't jump into a hot shower aſt er swimming, as this can cause shock as blood leaves your internal organs and rushes to your extremities.


4. Dress quickly and have a warm drink. 5. Understand hypothermia – what it is and how to spot the warning signs, both in yourself and other swimmers.


HOW DO I PREPARE FOR NIGHT SWIMMING?


I’m training for a marathon sea swim that'll involve some night swimming, which I've not done before. What should I be aware of, and how can I best prepare? The swim's in Western Australia. Aaron Richardson, email


Our high-performance swimming expert Steven Munatones says… It’s not unusual for swimmers to become disorientated or even fearful while swimming in the dark, if they're unaccustomed to the experience. On the other hand, once they become used to it, some swimmers fi nd it an incredible and meditative undertaking. There aren’t any magic tricks, I’m afraid. The best way to prepare for a night swim is to practise swimming at night. Start by swimming along the shore on a moonlit evening. The next night swim should be when it is darker, due to cloud cover or a new moon. By all means swim with someone else, or have a paddler, kayaker or escort boat alongside you when you do your night training swims. You probably do not want to swim at dusk or dawn in your part of the world, as these are the most common times for shark at acks. Use illumination during night training swims, so you are replicating the things you will do during the actual swim. At ach disc-lights or glow-sticks to your swim cap, goggles or swimsuit so your swim buddy or escort paddler or kayaker can bet er see you. Also, ask your swim buddy or escort paddler or kayaker to do the same, so you can see them, too. Your coach or escort buddies should be armed with a whistle, to alert you in an emergency. Make sure, too, that your family and friends know where and when you will be swimming at night – and, of course, enjoy the bioluminescence of the water.


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