Whatever the weather on the day, every year hundreds of people take part in the Christmas Day swim at Forty Foot, Dublin. This event might not be on your to-do list but it’s certainly a lot of fun. Not to mention that it’s just around the corner from the Martello Tower where Irish novelist and poet James Joyce set his opening to Ulysses
Cold water swimming is a popular winter pastime right across Europe. Thousands will be taking part in a form of it all over the continent on Christmas Day.
You’ll see a variety of characters enjoying the water down at Forty Foot. The swimming hole is frequented by the members of the Forty Foot Gentlemen’s Swimming Club who are well aware of the health benefits of taking a cool dunk in the water. Blood circulation, salt water and something as bracing as the Irish Channel in winter will get your body moving. OK, possibly right out of the water in a big hurry.
If you fancy taking part on the big day, then you might want to prepare beforehand. Here’s what you can do to prepare and also some other snippets that you should know about:
- Take a few cold showers to acclimatise the body. You don’t want to be too shocked when you enter the water or it could ruin your day, to say the least!
- Don’t expect a water temperature that anywhere near resembles the summer temperature for wild swimming.
- As you jump in, exhale. Your ribcage will contract when you enter the cold water, and you’ll naturally breathe in. Some people who don’t do this panic as they feel that they cannot breathe. Remember that any yelping that you do is all part of a taking part in a fresh natural swim.
- Know that you’re going to feel cold when you jump in, and then get on and do it. Don’t stand on the side lines looking like an undecided turnip, you’ll only get cold.
- Once you’re in, don’t come running straight out; give yourself at least 90 seconds to get used to the water and acclimatize.
- Don’t imagine that you can swim too far, until you have had a practice. You’ve got to understand how your body reacts to such festive occasions first.
- If possible don a neoprene suit – ideally with a Santa hat so that you look the part.
Open swimming is a lot of fun, believe me I’ve tried it and I highly recommend it. You just need to have your expectations set right and those of your body too.
Forty Foot is open 24 hours a day and regulars report that there can be strong currents and seals in the water. If you don’t feel all that adventurous this Christmas, nobody will hold it against you. You can always blame it on forgetting to bring your swimsuit with you.