Cold water is rough on the athlete. It gets into everything and pulls the heat right out of you. There is little less pleasant than running in wet shoes, and nothing much more shocking to the system than plunging into an ice cold pool. Whether you're championship swimming or mud running, here is a helpful guide to ways to keep warm in cold water.

Invest In The Proper Equipment

There is a lot of physics and chemistry that goes into keeping your body in peak performance. Athletics require balance, power, precision, and heat regulation. Cold water has powerful effects on a heat-generating body. It cools things down, and quickly. This is great for overheating, sweating bodies. But cold water will eventually pull all the heat out of any system. No human being generates enough heat to warm even a small body of water that is below blood temperature. The thermal inertia of water is simply too great. For prolonged swimming in cold water, there is no choice but to invest in a wetsuit. A cap, boots, and gloves are also important. This is not just essential for health, but for enjoyment. When body parts get too cold, they tend to lock up. It is very difficult to swim when you cannot pull your fingers together. It takes all the fun out of it.

Swim Harder

One of the best ways to stay warm is to work harder. Even if you cannot feel yourself sweating, you are still generating more heat when you swim faster. The friction from cutting through the water does not make up for the heat loss from the liquid flowing by, so you will still cool down in cool water. Moreover, it is essential to pace yourself when you are swimming harder to keep warm. You are not buying yourself very much time, because if you stop and tread water you are going to cool down quickly. Make sure you do not cramp up or strand yourself far out in the water. This is especially important in open water and the sea. Always pace yourself when you are dealing with a cold ocean like the Pacific.

Concentrate On Your Breathing

Make sure you work on your exhale. The body's natural response when it hits cold water is to inhale, so the shock reflex is lessened with a complete exhalation. Most of the nerves in your body go numb very quickly when you are plunged into cold water. However, your face is hypersensitive, and it will get cold very quickly if you are swimming face-down. Make sure that you raise your head often, or swim on your back, in order to keep the cold at bay. Once your face is adapted to the cold, you may also want to blow bubbles with your mouth. It sounds silly, but it works. It distracts the mind and focuses attention on the exhalation, which is helpful.

Stay Safe

Remember, hypothermia is no joke. Do not over-exert yourself, and if you are swimming far out in open water, make sure to have a friend with a boat nearby to keep an eye on you.

Derek often likes to blog about fitness and health. Whenever he is not blogging or working, he enjoys participating in mud runs or other obstacle related runs. The article above is for mud running.