If you’re toying with the idea of a Christmas day sea swim this year but are doubting your own sanity; you might not be as crazy as you or your warmly-wrapped-up friends and relatives may think.
Most people are more than ok with open water swimming when the weather is warm and balmy, but with December’s conditions including breath-takingly icy water and the likely chance of a stiff Arctic breeze to chill things down even more, why would anyone impose such an ordeal on themselves, especially on a day when log fires and turkey roast dinners are a standard?
Could there be method in the madness and if so, where would one embark on such an outrageous endeavour?
Firstly let’s discuss the ‘why’.
- It’s fun!
Believe it or not there are many great benefits to cold water swimming both emotional and physical! Fun falls into the first category and it’s top of our list because along with the randomness of joining a bunch of strangers as they plunge themselves into freezing cold water, it’s also a darned good laugh!
- It boosts your immune system
Yip, that’s right. The effects of cold water on the immune system are well-documented and prove that it helps to boost the body’s white blood cell count; so winter is in fact a great time to take the plunge!
- It improves your circulation
Your body’s reaction to very cold water is that circulation on the surface is constricted, flushing your veins, arteries, and capillaries. This causes blood in your deeper tissues to circulate much faster in order to maintain your normal body temperature.
- It chills you out
The effects of stress reduction on the body from being immersed in ice cold water are widely recognized particularly in Scandinavian countries like Finland and are mainly linked to decreased cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. A lower heart rate from cold water exposure could also result in feeling calmer which could benefit those suffering from anxiety.
- It’s sociable
Nothing brings people together like facing a shared challenge and it’s so much easier to fall into laughter and conversation with strangers when you have something in common. Most often you’ll meet people from your own neck of the woods out on a Christmas day swim and who knows, you may want to meet up for a New Years’ day swim as well!
There are countless stunning beaches lining our coastline, and South West travel experts Luxury Coastal who are local to Devon and Cornwall have shared their top five picks in the area.
- Torcross and Beesands
Both neighbouring beaches lie on the picturesque South Hams coastline in Devon and can get pretty moody when the weather is stormy so care should be taken to adhere to safe swimming zones and weather warnings. If however conditions are mild, there are few places with a better view.
The long expanse of sand and sea make this beach in north Devon a brilliant choice. Most often frequented by surfers and water-sports enthusiasts, Woolacombe is also family-friendly and has been voted the UK’s best two years in a row by TripAdvisor.
- Summerleaze Beach
Bude’s top sandy beach has its own wonderful sea pool which is a great option for younger family members joining in on a sea swim. This north Cornwall beach is dog friendly all year so if your four-legged friend feels like joining in on the antics the more the merrier!
- Swanpool Beach
This beautiful sand and shingle beach lies in south Cornwall near to Falmouth. Fairly sheltered, its calm waters are usually perfect for sea swimming although like anywhere, it is important to give paddling a miss if weather conditions are unfavourable.
- Praa Sands
With a gorgeous, mile-long sandy beach Praa Sands in west Cornwall is the perfect swimming beach and with breath-taking views in every direction you might just forget how chilly the water is.
Remember to check the weather forecast, tide times, and any current warnings before heading out, and always swim with a friend.