A quick dip without the wetsuit

Before the swim

Before the swim 4 degree air temp

After one open water swim, in the coldest waters that Plymouth has seen since records began, at least Pauline’s records anyway, I decided to have a dip without the wetsuit today. It wasn’t my fault, I think that the Devon and Cornwall Open Water swimmers have brainwashed me with their casual approach to the freezing cold March waters in the English channel. Read on for more and to find out what happens to your expression when your practically naked body hits 7 degree sea water, which just so happens to be 3 degrees celsius warmer than the ambient air temperature.

I went to Bigbury this morning and had a 10 mile jaunt along the coastal path in prep for a guided run I’m doing next week. All the while looking down into the beautiful turquoise waters along the South Devon coastline. It really looked quite appealing and I wanted to see how long I could last without my wetsuit, that and I really want to acclimatise myself to the cold as much as possible, so that when I do my first open water race later in the year I am totally comfortable in what is a very alien environment to the human body. I debated the point back and forth with the little voices in my head, one minute deciding to take the sensible route and simply drive home at the end of the run, and a moment later deciding that do or die is the only way forward.

After my first dive

After my first dive

When I finally finished the run, the “do or die” voice was in the lead. I leapt into my Speedo Jammers, put my hat and goggles on and dashed down the beach into the sea, diving straight in as soon as it was deep enough before surfacing for air, fully in the grasp of cold shock. I waited for my breathing to calm down and dived in again, more cold shock. I repeated this process four times and I was getting to the stage where the initial moments under the water felt warmer then when I was out. Of course that didn’t last too long as water is much more efficient than air at whisking away your body heat. My legs started to get sluggish and the pain in my arms was quite intense, so I decided that enough was enough, time to get out. When I turned to go back to the beach I noticed that a bunch of people were stood on the beach wrapped up in scarves and hats taking pictures of the muppet that was obviously trying to kill himself. I guess I’ve given them something to talk about for a few days 🙂

Back to the beach

Back to the beach – NOW!

When I looked at my watch I noticed that I had made it a whole four minutes, it doesn’t sound like much, but I was quite pleased for my first go without protection, so to speak. I then dashed back up the beach, grabbed my towel and started running around in circles with my towel around my shoulders trying to get warm. Oh, I also had a massive grin on my face and next week I hope to make it 6 minutes 😉


  1. helen currell says:

    You’ve got the bug mate xhx

  2. boogiebabeAllan says:

    One discussion last month suggested it’s riskier submerging during the cold water response due to initiating a conflicting dive response. Watch out for the rip towards the rocks there. Found the Gastrobus served excellent soup and bacon roll there last week.

  3. I typed Allan not that!


  1. […] After the run I decided to take my second open water dip of the year in two days, and jumped in the sea without a wetsuit on. I lasted four minutes, but it was a good start in acclimatising my body to the cold and reducing the cold shock that I experience in future swims. Apparently the water was a rosy 7.9 degrees today, with an air temp of 4! The people on the beach weren’t quite sure how to respond. More at the following link, although don’t click on it if you are offended by the sight of my pasty white English body…. http://www.bikerunswim.co.uk/a-quick-dip-without-the-wetsuit/ […]

  2. […] try, hence jumping in elsewhere the following day without a wetsuit. You can read about that here. I was really looking forward to visiting Tinside again this […]

  3. […] If you want to read more, you can find the first entry in the acclimatisation series here. […]

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