Cold water swimming in Melbourne

Cold water immersion and cold water open water swimming are the new buzz words for healthy activity, especially for middle aged adults. This is an amazing experience that revitalises your mind, body and mood.

From Saturday 1 May 2021, and through winter 2021, there is just one supported swim group at Williamstown Beach each week – the 9am Saturday Cool Water Winter Swim Group.

This is a supported cold water, open water swim group, not a class or lesson. You set your own distance, pace and time in the water.

You can follow our 600-700m swim course in the no-boating zone and we provide on-water support with a boardy or kayaker keeping an eye on you and the conditions around you.

The course will be a big square or triangle stretching from the shallows to the deep water around the yellow poles at Williamstown. You can swim the entire course any number of times or stick to the shallows.

When you get out of the water, there will be hot tea and watermelon. Please BYO snacks for a picnic. You can’t leave and drive away straight after getting out of the cool water. There are warm showers nearby if you feel like that, but you don’t need a warm shower to recover from cold water swimming.

What are the advantages and risks of cold water swimming?

Cold water swimming in the ocean is an amazing experience that will make you healthier, happier and smarter! Seriously. The cold open water swimming improves your circulation, your immune system, gets blood flowing through your brain and boosts your endorphin production and mood. Cold water swimming is addictive.

It is particularly good for you if you are at an age where you are saying things like “age doesn’t matter” and “age is just a number” and “I’m young at heart.” 

Here is our guide to cold water swimming from 2020 and here is some science about cold water swimming. There are plenty of articles to read about how cold water is healthy and good it is for you but there are risks of cold water swimming and you should not try it by yourself.

The first thing to know about cold water swimming in the ocean is you need to start early in Autumn before the temperature gets too low. Keep up your cold water swimming regularly, ideally at least once per week in order to get acclimatised to the cold.

How does cold water swimming affect your body?

Cold water swimming in the ocean can change your body for the better. Your white fat will change to brown fat and you will possibly lose weight.

After a while of doing it, you might find you won’t need a jumper quite so often. You won’t be turning the heater on quite as much.

Recovering from a cold water swim is important. You can’t get in your car and drive straightaway after getting out of the cold water. Getting your wet swimsuit off and warm clothes, especially socks will help. Going for a run in the sun is great. You will shiver more when you get out and you may not be thinking completely straight, if the water is very cold, so care needs to be take. Swim in a group or with friends, don’t try cold water swimming alone.

How cold is cold water swimming?

There is more information in this guide to cold water swimming but essentially these are the water temperatures you need to know about:

20C – Getting nippy and refreshing.

18C – Most people are wearing wetsuits at 18C

16C – No sanctioned open water event or swim can be held at this temperature

15.5C – This is cold water and most people will be wearing wetsuits, and even gloves and swim boots. People who want to qualify for ultra marathon swims need to swim at this temperature to qualify for most sanctioned swims.

10-12C – This is as cold as most people will want to go with cold water swimming, even with wetsuits.

8-9C – This is as cold as the ocean water gets in Victoria, Australia. Yes you can swim at this temperature, but not for too long and never swim at this temperature alone.

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