orange hat ladies

A Useful Guide

It’s that time of year when you start to see a LOT of articles popping up on line about how to keep swimming through the winter, how to cope with cold water and the ‘huge benefits’ of braving the freezer. It’s also the time of year when Karen’s level of whooping and swearing begins to rise exponentially! But as a recent article said, “If you want to swim through the winter, start your acclimatisation in summer and just keep swimming through the autumn” (Outdoor Swimming Magazine) So there you have it, simple… just keep swimming!

The trouble with sea swimming, or maybe it’s a bonus, is that the sea never really gets that warm in this country – high teens generally at best and… well let’s just say low single figures during the winter months. Just now it’s feeling cooler for sure, it’s at that temperature where you start thinking that you’re a complete idiot for even considering swimming through the coming winter as it’s this cold and only November. But… after ten minutes or so it actually starts to feel rather good! There’s a tingle to the skin and it really makes you feel exhilarated, free and alive. Even Karen had to admit that this week has felt pretty wonderful, especially when the sun has been out and the water has been quieter.

It’s all very well to feel righteous and smug about winter swimming but I do have to acknowledge that we will also still be squealing and swearing at times. To this end, Karen has created the very useful “Cold Water Swim / Swear Forecast” to help alert others as to the correlation between water temperature and the levels of swearing which we hope you will find useful.

Karen Mead, Orange Hat Ladies, sea swimming, swim blog
Copyright Karen Mead

Scale explained:

1) Optimistic. Mild cursing, profanities rare at this stage. Conversation/monologue continues as normal.

2) Shocked disbelief. Mumbling, sibilance; ‘SSssshhhh….Conversation becomes disjointed.

3) Self doubt. Robust cursing, scatalogical references. Medium warble, increasing volume,possible incredulous giggle.

4) Groinal-contraction. Official ‘OOoofff’ Zone. Swearing likely to be biological and/or deviant. Whooping, generally incoherent.

5) Surrender. Vocabulary now displays impressive anatomical knowledge. High-pitched braying some screaming.

6) Imminent Exhilaration. Sudden religious conversion or Biblical exhortation. Bellowing and/or gurgling dependent on sea conditions.

I would like to apologise now to anyone offended by our swimming language, or the language used pre or post swim whilst in a public place. We might be giggling and swearing a lot but we’ve definitely been reminded of how good cold water swimming can make you feel. Onwards towards Christmas and the New Year… we have to get through another winter with a smile!

(Thanks to Lynne Young fellow swimmer for capturing the header pic)


  1. Absolutely hilarious – I can’t stop giggling at that and my vision of you two at the various stages !! Keep going ladies 👏🏻👏🏻


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