Are you feeling down, depressed, or simply unable to get out of bed? Have you ever taken a cold shower and shook that feeling off? Well, cold water swimming might just be for you.
The benefits of cold water exposure have been documented by doctors and scientific studies. I'm not a physician or a scientist, but a mere mortal. So, let me tell you about my own experience with cold water swimming.
Coming from Hawai'i, winters in Switzerland were tough on me.
In the beginning, it was fun before it became not so much. I found myself complaining, irritable, waiting for summer, etc. I wore thermal underpants and undershirts from October to April. The cold ripped through me like a hot knife through butter. It was time to face my fear, to conquer my enemy: the cold.
I became intrigued with Wim Hof, the Ice Man, even before I left Hawai'i. Though, I never had the guts to go through with it. With a name like "Wim Hof," how could anyone resist following him?
Hof is a modern-day superhero. A person who is singlehandedly rewriting medical books with what is possible in a human being. If you are clueless about Wim Hof, this video sucked me into cold water exposure.
Every long journey starts with the first step
I realized that two colleagues were wild swimming in the winter. It would only be a matter of time until I joined them. First, I went by myself as my wife watched in endearment. The only reason why I took the plunge alone was that I was afraid of quitting mid-swim with my colleagues.
Here is my first journal entry about that experience on October 27, 2019:
- 1st dip = 30 seconds
- 2nd dip = 1:30 minutes
- 3rd swim = 12:30 minutes (I almost gave up. My entire body was in pain and I started to panic. I quickly swam back, and my wife shamed me to not get out.)
I stood in place about to cry when euphoria hit me: no more pain, and my insides were on fire. I started to swim around like I was back in Hawai'i. The water was 60 degrees (15.5° C) today. My next goal is to swim when it's snowing...
How healthy is swimming in cold water?
As you can tell, I started small and continued once a week. Throughout the two years, here are some of the benefits of cold water swimming I have noticed:
- It gives a natural high.
- A feeling of self-accomplishment.
- A feeling that I can do anything.
- Can reach flow state quickly.
- Time is slowing down.
- It has destroyed my irritability.
- It has reset my body.
- It has rebooted my mind.
- Energy and joy throughout the week.
Need even more proof that cold water swimming has many benefits? It:
- Increases the metabolism.
- Reduces swelling, inflammation, and sore muscles.
- Improves the quality of sleep.
- Increases focus.
- Improves the immune system.
- Increases libido.
- Reduces stress.
- Increases circulation.
My advice for getting started with cold water swimming in Switzerland
If you regularly swim in the summer, do not stop. Keep swimming every week. The next thing you know, it's snowing in the dead of winter.
Every single one of my colleagues who have tried it has continued cold water swimming since. In 2020, I had two co-workers who were undecided. And the way they got through it was by never stopping to swim throughout the summer.
Now, they are doing cartwheels down the hallways. They are screaming in excitement to go cold water swimming. Sometimes, they will go two or three times a week. It sure is an excellent way to break up a mundane week at the office...
My most recent journal entry from January 15, 2021:
- Water: 5°C
- Air: 0°C
- 6 minutes = natural high
From the time I moved to Switzerland four years ago. I had dreamed about this scene. That's me in the video, swimming in the middle of a snowstorm!
My wife is standing by on the shore, just in case I get too savage in the water and don't make it out. And to be perfectly honest, the usual first two minutes are hard. But after that, it is like soaking in a Jacuzzi. Your body does interesting things to keep you alive.
This is all coming from a person who has disliked the cold. A person who couldn't wait until winter was over. A person who wore a spring suit in the middle of summer in San Diego, California, while all the locals wore surf shorts. A person who dearly misses the warm tropic weather and sand beneath his toes.
And now, I crave the cold water. The cold water is calling me. My next goal? To enter the water by breaking the ice of a lake...
More information about cold water swimming in Switzerland
- Beginner's Guide to Cold Water Swimming in Switzerland (Free download)
- About the Wim Hof Cold Therapy
- Winter Swimming Luzern
- Buy "Wild Swim" by Bergli Books