Winter swimmer heading out

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Swimming information

If you're taking on a swim for charity we've got some top tips for you. From what to wear, to how to face the cold, as well as local swimming facilities to help you train.

Wetsuits: what kind do I need?

Before you start your swimming adventure it’s important to know your Spring suit from your dry suit, your rash guard from your wetsuit vest. For instance, did you know wetsuits aren’t meant to keep you entirely dry? … but a dry suit will. We’ve put together some of the basics below and links to additional information that we think you might find useful.

What’s a wetsuit made from? Neoprene is made of small closed cells that are filled with air which provide insulation against cold water by trapping heat in. The thicker the suit’s neoprene, the warmer the suit will be because it has more heat-trapping insulation. It’s important to research the water temperature (keeping in mind the different seasons and swells) in the region where you will primarily use your wetsuit. If the temperatures are cold enough to make your extremities go numb, think about using boots, gloves and hoods too.

Fitting a wetsuit: A wetsuit should fit like a second skin with no sagging in the back or excessive bunching in the arms or legs. It should fit tight in order to keep only a thin layer of water between your body and your suit. If your suit is loose, an abundance of water will flush through, making the suit less effective at keeping you warm. A wetsuit should also fit snugly around your neck.

There are many websites out there offering further advice including OspreyActionSports, and Wetsuit Warehouse.

Dipping your toe: acclimatising to colder water

Bring out your inner Wim Hof!

For some, getting used to cold water can be the most difficult part of swimming. The secret to acclimatising to cold water is just to swim in it, and often! There’s no fancy tricks, just good, old-fashioned teeth-gritting and plunging in– at least once a week, and preferably two or three. Gradually extend the time that you stay in the water. Get out if you aren’t comfortable, and don’t set time goals for staying in the water.

The Outdoor Swimming Society has excellent advice on taking your next (chilly) steps.

Did you know...

We have a hydrotherapy pool at the hospice... it's one of the best-loved facilities we have. Children get so much from splashing about and having fun but it's also got some amazing health and wellbeing benefits too. It's thanks to all our event participants who raise money for us that we're able to have such vital facilities at the House. Thank you so much for taking part and supporting local children in need of hospice care.

Find out about our pool

How to fuel for a longer swim

What you eat and how energised you feel can make or break your long-distance swim. We’ve got some easy to follow ideas that might help you out for your next dip:

  • Three to four hours before your swim: Eat a complete meal with at least three food groups and be sure to include a drink.
  • An hour before: Eat some fast-digesting carbohydrates, such as fruit or a few handfuls of a low fibre cereal and take in your caffeine if you’re using it.
  • Right before the swim (about 15 to 30 minutes): Eat additional carbohydrates, such as a box of raisins, and drink 8 to 12 ounces of water.

During the swim:

  • Swims longer than a 5K can deplete your glycogen stores. Any swim that will take you more than 60 to 90 minutes will require refuelling: 150 to 400 calories’ worth of carbohydrates per hour after the first hour. You should divide this across the hour—every 20 to 30 minutes—so you’re not taking in all the calories at one time.
  • Gels and chews, powders mixed with water (or juice depending on the concentration of carbohydrate and your tolerance), and wafer snacks are all great carbohydrate options. For those that require protein, consider peanut butter packets or premade shakes.

Outdoor Swimmer have a detailed guide and meal ideas if you’re looking for more.

Where can I swim? – outdoor venues with lifeguards in Sussex

Get used to outdoor swimming safe in the knowledge you’re got a trained lifeguard on hand. This is a really good way to start building your confidence in open water, and we’re lucky enough to have some fantastic outdoor pools on our doorstep in the South East.

Here are our favourite outside pools in Sussex where there are lifeguards on duty: