Why I Went Cold Water Swimming for a Whole Year

Why I Went Cold Water Swimming for a Whole Year

A women who cold swam everyday last year is now challenging herself to wild swim in 100 different locations in 2024.

Have you ever looked at an icy body of water and thought, I wonder how long I will last in there?

No, me neither, however, for Zoe Naughalty that is her reality.

In fact, for 365 days last year she braved the cold waters across England, having swam with E.coli poisoning alongside rain, wind or snow. Cold swimming has become a way of life for Zoe.

This year, Zoe who is in her 30’s and from Weston-super-Mare, has set herself a new challenge. She is currently on location 56 of 100 different cold swimming locations across the United Kingdom.

She said: “I didn’t realize how much the cold water helped me, it was when I stopped for a week this year due to bad weather and I felt anxious again.”

Having cold swam for three years now, she initially hated the cold.

“It was originally a new years resolution because I hated the cold water, now I struggle to find cold enough water in summer!” Zoe explained.

Cold Swimming and the Mind

Having recently been made redundant at the start of May, previously Zoe worked in Bristol. She found it hard to focus and clear her mind when out of the water.

Having tried Yoga, she simply couldn’t clear her mind naturally.

Zoe recalls: “When I was made redundant, I remember my first thought was I need to get into cold water.

“I went to Keepers Pond in Wales, near the Black Mountains. It was still cold 2.5 degrees but I made sure I could stay for 15 minutes, I needed to be cold to clear my mind”.

However, it is not advised to do this without training but Zoe has cold swam for years and understands her body very well. Usually people roughly aim to spend a minute in the cold water per degree temperature.

“Now I don’t find the water a struggle unless its lower than 5 degree’s Celsius,” Zoe explained.

“Last year it was 15 degrees but now if I need to make any big life decisions I will head to a cold body of water to focus and clear my mind. Focus on my breathing.”

For this reason, Zoe often hikes to bodies of waters in the Welsh Black Mountains, looks for running water in shaded spots or for deep lakes – all to lower the temperature.

Zoe’s Cold Swimming Challenge

This month Zoe spent 48 hours in Scotland to cold swim in Loch Ness and the surrounding lakes. She has also completed weekend trips to the Lake District for cold dipping too.

Zoe said: “Many people get out the office and chill out to recharge. I often go outside to recharge and recover. I try to fit as much in as possible.”

Zoe at Loch Ness earlier this year as she passed the halfway mark in her cold swimming challenge.

As she cracks on with another cold swim challenge, Zoe is constantly reminded of the wonderful community within cold swim groups.

“The communities are great, I’ve met lots of people and we’ve shared places and good spots to swim,” she added.

“Some of my best friends are from swim groups on Instagram and cold water groups.”

Zoe’s Cold Swimming Tips

Even after years of practice, Zoe understands the danger’s of cold swimming.

She wears neoprene gloves and socks to help keep blood flow in her extremities, uses tactics like reciting the alphabet in the water to check her breathing and tries to cold swim with others.

Despite this, she still cold swims a lot alone, this is not recommended.

She said: “I had a Scare my first winter. I had been ill and I thought I could stay in longer even though I felt a little unwell, it was only a cold.

“When I got out, I felt really warm and started shivering, it could have been much worse. My body was still fighting the illness.”

She now lets people know her location and what time to expect her to return home if she swims alone, this is still not recommended.

So, if you decide to wild swim near you, make sure you get expert advice and go with friends.

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