Learn How to Stay Warm in Cold Water Without a Wetsuit

Swimming is such a fun adventure especially for those who love to hike along paths with swim holes that the public can freely enjoy. Unlike when swimming in pools, natural swim holes do not have temperature control mechanisms.

So, if you are a lover of nature, you will certainly love looking for available swimming areas along the way. However, when it starts getting colder, peoples start to tend to avoid the water. But of course, there is something inviting about natural water swim holes during the colder weathers. Others opt to use wetsuits to avoid hypothermia. Then again, having a wetsuit as you dive into the water may not feel that natural at all. Others rent wetsuits if they are not avid natural swimmers.

However, there are instances when you are faced with situations when you need to swim bare into the water without any wetsuit. Whatever your reasons may be, you need to make sure you are safe as you dive into the cold water.

Here are some tips on How to stay warm in cold water without a wetsuit:

FIRST OPTION: Animal fat

The best option would be to use goose fat. Used since the 1800, this strategy was adapted by swimmers in the past, when wetsuits were not yet available for use. Although at present, this is considered to be just an option for emergency situations, especially for those who accidently have to handle emergency conditions when they are camping around lakes or waterfall swimming holes.

It is believed that animal fat has the capacity to close pores from being exposed to the cold temperature in the water. Other individuals who have no other option take oil and slather it around their body to at least protect them from the cold.

SECOND OPTION: Preparation is the Key

Often, the need to jump into a water with really cold water comes because of the need to face certain emergencies. If you are part of an emergency team, you are likely going to be trained to get into cold-temperature water to make sure your body is used to the pressure.

Professional swimmers are also exposed to natural environments in order to strengthen the capacity of the body to handle the changing conditions in the water. Nonetheless, this does not mean that the training will get your body immune to sudden emergencies that ma even cause death along the way.

Part of the preparation is establishing your mental readiness before you jump into the water. It will surprise you how much your mind can do to protect your body from failing as you swim into cold waters. So if you are a professional swimmer, or if you are training to become part of the emergency team, take the time to practice well and set your mind to the job, hence, giving you a stronger capacity to face pressure once you are already in the water.


The best way to help your body adjust to the temperature of the water is to make sure that your whole body is wet. As you get into the water, make sure that you get fully wet up to your head. This option will help your body automatically regulate with the temperature of the water.

FOURTH OPTION: Keep Your Body in Motion

It is the body’s natural response to cold temperature to curl up and hopefully preserve whatever heat it has inside. But when it comes to swimming in cold waters, it is best to start moving and keep moving. This motion will help your body to keep the blood flowing and heat up your body from within.

Imagine when you are starting to exercise you may observe your body beginning to sweat from the beginning towards the mid-phase of the exercise. This means your body is heating up. But of course the situation is different when you are battling with the cold temperature in the water.

Hence, even when the cold water is dictating that you should just curl up for comfort, you need to force yourself to do the opposite and keep swimming. This can help your body to quickly warm up.

However, if you are in open water, remember not to swim too far. Not because your body is starting to feel heated up mean that you will actually survive longer in an open water. When trying to save someone, do all you can to have someone else to look out for you as you go into the water and call in supplemental emergency back up to help you in the process.

Once you are already in the water, here are things you should remember:

After all the preparation and assumptions on how to stay warm in cold water without a wetsuit, there is something different about actually swimming into the cold water.

This is especially true when it comes to handling spontaneous emergencies. Mental preparation is often one of the primary elements that gets set aside. So, knowing what to do to keep your body warm as you swim within the cold water temperature could actually save your life.

Here are some tips you can consider:

  • Do blowing bubbles

The shock that cold water brings can easily take your breath away. Blowing bubbles can help you get your breath back and be in control of your body once you are already swimming in the water.

  • Exhale and focus on the breathing

As part of your mental control, you can focus more on your breathing. This will help you improve the balance of your breathing under water in cold temperature. As you focus on your breathing, your mind is drawn away from the cold temperature allowing you to move further.

When you start breathing in a more regulated manner, you also prevent the occurrence of hyperventilation which often results from panic. Of course, as you get into the cold water, your brain will assume that the sudden change in temperature should be responded with flight- meaning you should immediately get out of the water; hence, probing your body to respond with panic.

The sad truth is, when panic sips in, it will be very impossible for you to find a better way of regulating your temperature from that point forward.

  • Never Dive in Haste

When you dive out of panic, your life will certainly be in danger. First test the temperature with your feet. Even when in emergencies, remember to condition yourself first before you go in for a swim. Keep in mind that if you do things in panic you will certainly lose control of everything and in an emergency, none of these approaches would help- you cannot save anyone if you end up needing to be saved yourself.

What You Should Do After the Swim

Once you are ready to get out, there are still some things to consider.

  • A thick robe or a thermal sheet may give you that instant heat that you need after getting out of the cold water. Often when in emergency situations, these are made readily available for you by the EMS or the emergency response team.
  • If you are camping or are near your house, immediately get in and get into a more regulated temperature after the swim. In campgrounds, you might opt to sit in front of the fire to get immediately heated up.  
  • If you have immediate access to warm shower, do so immediately and put on warm clothing. It helps to have a hot drink as well to aid in reheating your body after the cold swim.

The guidelines on how to stay warm in cold water without a wetsuit as noted in this discussion should be considered seriously. Take note that if these options to keep yourself safe as you dive into the cold water are disregarded, there is a possibility that you will suffer from hypothermia.

Just how serious is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a dangerous condition that is characterized by a drop of body temperature. Often, this is caused by a long time of being exposed to cold temperatures. These cases are often at a height especially during winter. Nonetheless, even when it is the summer and spring time, but you get exposed to cold temperature on certain situations, there is still a possibility for you to suffer from this condition.

The normal body temperature is close to positive/negative 98.6 degrees. Once the body temperature drops to at least 95 degrees or lower, the dangers of hypothermia should be critically observed. The temperature can still drop up to 82 degrees down from the normal average.

The body heat often escapes through the skin and through the breath that you exhale. When you go for a swimming deep into a water with cold temperature, heat escapes the body fast unless you can actually help in the process of regulating your body temperature immediately.

Water with temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit can present a risk of hypothermia. It is suggested that when diving into cold water, you immediately set yourself to move really fast one you are already in the water and get out as fast as possible in order to resolve temperature issues with your body.

Some of the symptoms of hypothermia include shivering and exhaustion, confusion and fumbling hands, sudden memory loss, and lips, hands, and feet turning purple suggesting that the supply of oxygen is already drained due to the sudden drop in body temperature.

When this happens, call Emergency Medical Services or EMS immediately and perform first aid to the person suffering from these symptoms. Warming up the person’s body is critical. If you are alone, do everything you can to warm up and find a way to call EMS for help; tell them your location and try to heat yourself up with friction and cover yourself with blanket or anything that you can find around that may help you regulate your temperature.

Things to Remember on How to Stay Warm in Cold Water without a Wetsuit

  • If you can avoid it, please do not swim in cold water. If you really need to, try to not to do it without a wetsuit.
  • But if in cases when emergencies push you to do the impossible, you ought to go in fast and get out faster. This will lessen the chances of you developing symptoms of hypothermia.
  • If swimming in cold water temperature is part of your training, then you need to make sure that you are prepared before you dive in to swim. The suggestions listed in this discussion may very well help you in developing better strategies to stay warm while swimming in cold water temperature.

In all these, take note that swimming may be fun. Going out for a nature trip and swimming in natural swim holes may be invigorating. But your safety should always come first in these situations. Knowing what to do in emergencies when symptoms of hypothermia may occur is best to consider especially in the hope of saving a life.

Key Takeaways

Sure, swimming is a fun adventurous activity. It is both invigorating and refreshing.

However, when you are one who wants to try the extremes, you might need to take precautions. Swimming in cold water has been among the most challenging sports that many adventurers want to consider. Take note thought that there are serious risks to this option of swimming.

Learning how to stay warm in cold water without a wetsuit will certainly prove to be a critical part of your safety. As noted in this post, cold water swimming can post serious dangers and you should dare yourself to dive in if it is not absolutely necessary or if you are not prepared enough to do so. Remember, safety should always come first before the fun.

Whether it be for training, for emergency, or for fun, you should have the proper mindset needed to help save you from going into hypothermia once you decide to go swimming into natural and wild cold waters.

Using wetsuits is always the safest way to go. Sure, wet suits may not give you that natural feel of the water, but you would be able to swim longer in cold water when you have the right equipment to survive the challenge.