Cold Water Adaptation and Pool Swimming at the same time

SalishSeaSalishSea Nanaimo, BC CanadaMember
edited April 2014 in Beginner Questions
I am working on swimming in colder water and I am up to about 20 min but at the same time I am still logging most of my time in the pool. Are my 5-10 hrs/week in the pool canceling out the 60-80 min/week of cold water swimming? I am mostly thinking about the physical side as I can already see the differences in the mental side.


  • JbetleyJbetley UKMember
    In my experience no. CW acclimatisation is 'in the bank' regardless of whether you then also spend time in the chlorine box. :-)
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    edited April 2014
    Feel free to laugh at me, but get into a cold shower every morning. Don't flinch. Don't scream. Own the moment. Train your mind to take the pain. 100% mind over matter.

    I'm from South Florida. It was all I had and have to say that it worked out ok.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    what is considered cold water?
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    tortuga wrote:
    what is considered cold water?

    You know it when you're in it!
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    For those of us who live with cold water, i.e. maybe 95% all the Irish and UK open water swimmers, cold and warm are two parallel tracks, always, since at the coldest point (Jan/Feb/March) it's not possible to swim for much more than 30 or 40 minutes. Therefore almost everyone will swim in the pool. No-one here worries about it. (I removed 5% for those who never visit the pool and swim in wetsuits in winter, though I doubt the percentage is anywhere that high).

    That said and in the interest of teasing this out, the ambient air temperature here is also lower, with temps of 24C the cause of national celebration and temps of 30C cause for a national shutdown.

    Cold water hardening, i.e. acclimatization, i.e. the ability to stay in cold water water, is unaffected by immersion or swimming in warm water.

    Once gained, cold water hardening is only lost slowly, with the research out of the Portsmouth Uni. Group showing that after six months without any cold water exposure, the previously "hardened" person still retains about two-thirds (I think that's the figure, it might be higher but is not lower) of their gained hardening (as measured by swimming time). With the passage of a full year, a previously hardened person will still retain up to 50% of their hardening.

  • After swimming in vast temperature fluctuations in Florida, I think it comes down to you become tolerant of every temperature if you have to deal with it and experience it.
    In Florida, the water drops to upper 50s for a brief moment, hangs in the 60s for a lot of the winter to give us lots of time to train at this temperature, and is just now warming into the 70s. But pretty soon, it will heat up to the lower and then upper Key West training! Since most Florida pools are outside, even when we swim in the pools we tolerate cool water and air in the winter (especially if you swim at night in the pool...5-7 AM and PM workouts for me mean a lot of cold night swimming in the winter, even if the water is upper 70s!)
    I was afraid after swimming in hot water all summer, plus losing some weight, I would have had a tough winter with the cold, but I tolerated it even better than the winter before. For me, half of it is learning to whine less. :)
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Pool swimming for 6 months of the year doesn't seem to lessen my cold water ability, once the lake melts
  • SalishSeaSalishSea Nanaimo, BC CanadaMember
    Thanks all. I was worried all my cold work was going to wasted.
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    @Salishsea Your question is timely as I tried this out today!

    My last open water swim was in early October when I visited Cork for the conference and did one lap of Sandycove. Since then I have not swum outside, or in unheated lidos or dared to take a cold shower (I admire anyone who can do that, I can't even get my feet in!). I have only trained in heated pools for the last 6-7 months, at around 27C-29C. I love hot showers and hot baths, which is not really ideal given I mainly swim in British waters.

    Tonight I went to the local lake which has just opened for the season. I swam for 50 minutes but decided not to be a hero and not to push it any further. My recovery was fine. The water was around 13C and grey, windy and raining. Two years ago I wouldn't have been able to do that, so I think that the body must have some "acclimatisation memory" from previous years.
  • SarahhendeSarahhende Seattle, WA, USANew Member

    Wait, does this all mean that I can start my shower with hot water, as long as I then switch it to cold? Can I go in the hot tub? Does avoiding hot water help acclimatize to cold water or does it have no effect?

  • JSwimJSwim western Maryland, USMember

    Getting serious cold exposure is the key. Heat exposure when I'm acclimating doesn't seem to matter, thankfully. My n=1 experience, YMMV!

    A safety note though. Trying to warm up too fast by getting in a hot tub or taking (what average people would consider) a hot shower, is dangerous. But if you try it (by dipping your fingers or toes in the hot water) your body will tell you that. It'll feel boiling. Hot air (dry sauna, car heater blasting) is fine since air doesn't transfer heat nearly as well as water. A hot tub after you've rewarmed sufficiently is heaven!


    Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. --Neale Donald Walsch

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    I've been thinking a bit about this issue as well recently. Does one have to have a bunch of natural insulation or can a bag of bones such as myself acclimate to colder water?

    I have always had a healthy aversion to colder water, but I'm thinking of testing my limits. I'm not going to waste my time if it's a general rule of thumb that skinny people can't last too long in cold water. But if I can lengthen my out door swimming season, that would be pretty cool.

    Of course I will have to convince my lovely kayaker that she will enjoy being out on the lake in chilly weather. Maybe both of us will have to learn to acclimate.

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    I've met very thin people who could handle cold water just fine (cold as in down to winter/ice swimming levels.) I've met very fat people who could not handle cold at all. It's personal and depends on many things (that I'm not going to go into because I am not an expert.) I was talking about this recently with someone who wanted to explore chilly swimming (55-60f) and my advice was slow acclimation, learning your body's response, and trying new things. Learn your limits, learn how your body feels, and don't jump in unless you've acclimated because shock is a thing.

    I now live in SC and the coldest I may get this winter is 55 or so. I don't think it will be that cold by December, which is when I'll be doing a swim in SF and in NYC. I am hoping my body remembers what it could do in 2017.

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