How to swim comfortably in 10 degrees Celsius water

I hate to freeze. It is just awful. I have never learned to enjoy it, no matter how many times I have exposed myself for it in an attempt to HTFU, short for «Harden The F*** Up».

What I have learned is to not freeze while swimming in cold water, and that is done by putting on proper clothing. The coldest I have been swimming in was 3 degrees C water and minus air temperature, a swim lasted 11 minutes. Except for the fingers, which got rather cold, the rest of the body was totally okay with it. 3 degrees is much lower than people would go out for a swim. The cold summer we have in Norway for the moment does not make 10-14 degrees unlikely temperatures you would meet. Luckily it is fairly easy and inexpensive to get gear for swimming comfortably in those temperature ranges.

This is what I wear when training in 10 degrees C water. The most important thing is getting a properly fitted wetsuit. Especially if it is too big around the neck it constantly refills your wetsuit with new cold water. My QuintanaRoo Hydrosix is a high-end wetsuit with a very soft, yet sealed neck, which is more common for the expensive wetsuits. My other equipment is a mix of HUUB and Zone3.
The second most important part is this HUUB Balaclava, a product I asked HUUB to make for years until it finally came. It seals around the neck protecting the big veins going to the head. I would prefer an even longer version as is sometimes goes out of the wetsuit, but I have not found anyone with a similar product.
As I get brain freeze easily I often put on an extra neoprene cap above the balaclava and make sure to pull it as far down on the forehead as possible.
The Zone3 neoprene vest provides extra warmth works great without restricting any movement in shoulders. I do find it hard to get off when wet (I have size S) and would test it before using it in a race. Note that it is illegal at most races, but exceptions are often given at Xtri-races with very cold water. After I bought this vest I saw that they made a long sleeved version. Have not tried it, but it looks tempting.
The most important thing when choosing neoprene sock is getting a really snug fit. If in doubt, go down a size. Otherwise they just fill up with water and slows you down big time. Even very good fitting neoprene sock makes me go 1-1,5 seconds slower per 100m so the only time I used them in a race was Norseman 2015, when the water was 10 degrees. These sock from Zone3 are good, but fairly thin and with seams that do not look very hydrodynamic. They launched a new and warmer version with I think looks better.




As for the gloves, the same rule applies in regards to the fit. You want a really tight fit. While I don’t enjoy swimming with gloves as it removes my «feeling for the water» they are not making me slower. Note the gloves are illegal at nearly every triathlon race, Norseman with 10 degrees water included, but they can be nice to use in training. Note that Zone3 also have a new model of these ones, which looks better in regards to heat.
This is a picture taken mid of May when we had about 9 degrees cold water. The faces get rather cold immediately but after a few minutes it just fine and I have very good swimming experiences in my local outdoor pool.

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I am a 33 year old PRO triatlete. My goal is to swim, bike and run as fast as possible, and enjoy the journey. All my adventures and triathlon related stuff is well documented on this blog.

Én kommentar til “How to swim comfortably in 10 degrees Celsius water

  1. Denne har vært en super guide for hva som kan være lurt eller unødvendig for å svømme i kaldt/kjølig vann.
    Jeg lurer på om du kan si noe om hvilke triks du bruker for å registrer puls i vann. Salt/fersik/klor vann. Bruker V800 og H10. Men får minimalt med puls data.

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