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Women & Winter Waters | An Intro to Ice Dipping and Cold Water Immersion

Posted by Michelle Bandach on

As the land and seas of the Northern Hemisphere continues to be blanketed in winter weather - we turn to find inspiration from women across the globe who carry on their love for watery worlds even in freezing temps. Whether it's to summon in the season, or to seek healing and strength, Mother Nature offers us a new perspective on receiving her waters and seas in new and unexpected ways:

"As soon as I saw the pool in the ice, I knew it was the one. It was the most alluring color of blue that I needed to surround myself with. As I stood on the edge counting down from three, the rest of the world melted away. It was just me and the water. Before I knew it I was back on the ice and my body radiated heat and I felt so wildly alive. My body craves that feeling now." - Mary Ashley Krogh wears Seea as she documents her time and travels through Alaska in Lost & Found

Image Credit: Owen Chikazawa @bound.for.nowhere 

Cold Water Immersion

For centuries, people have turned to cold water swimming / ice dipping as part of personal rituals and seasonal experiences. In modern days, the benefits to these icy practices have been studied widely, and have been gaining attention with the help of extreme athletes like Wim Hof and the development of cold water hydrotherapy.

Some of these credited benefits (especially for women) from cold water immersion include:

  • Boosts and strengthens the immune system.
  • Improves lymphatic circulation.
  • Improves cardiovascular circulation.
  • Helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Provides mental clarity, fortitude and calmness.
  • Helps to reduce / manage feelings of anxiety.
  • Improves metabolic function and activates [good] brown fat.
  • Enhances mindfulness.

     

    Seea Gets Icy!

    With cold water swimming still being a new endeavor to us, we reached out to our friend Emma Pétursdóttir, who sent us some incredible imagery from the fringes of the Norwegian landscape last winter.  She not only rocks Seea swimwear (like our Dara Surf Suit) for these dips, but proves to be a formidable and inspirational icy icon:

    Photos by: Atle Øksendal 

    Hey Emma! We are so inspired by you, we can't get enough! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    I'm an occupational therapist, half Icelandic - half Danish, living in Bergen, Norway, with my partner and children. While living in Norway the last 20 years, I've always missed the swimming facilities from Iceland: the numerous outdoor swimming pools, the hot tubs, the lagoons, the lakes with hot geothermal beaches. In Norway, outdoor swimming is traditionally limited to the summer season, but that is luckily now changing. Bergen's only outdoor swimming pool is now open year-round, we have saunas popping up by the harbour, and [new] cold water dipping clubs and arrangements on every other corner. I'm happy to be part of this all year-round love-of-water movement. There is never a dull moment when you can play in the water, right!?

    How did you first become interested in ice dipping / outdoor swimming?

    I've been fond of dipping and playing in the water and the sea as long as I can remember, but I started regular winter dipping in January of 2020. A [local] harbour café offered free hot cocoa for all winter dippers, and I was sold! I had some lovely Sunday dips there, along with my daughter and two friends, before the initial Covid lock down that mid-march. We had unusually cold weather that winter in Bergen, and my dips increased. At times I've even had daily dips. 

     

    Photos by: Atle Øksendal  

    Could you describe the feeling of immersing yourself in freezing water? It must be wild.

    It's really different every time, as strange as it sounds. Depends on your mood, air temperature, wind, and the dipping spot. I always get this tingling feeling in my stomach right before. Butterflies. The feeling of doing something forbidden and dangerous. I take it slowly entering the water. When I finally dip the upper body in, this cold explosion hits me. The body screams: "get out!" but the brain says: "calm down and breathe". The first few times I lost my breath, but after a while it got easier to control it. If you stay in long enough you get this prickling feeling in your legs from the cold. Every time it clears my mind and makes me happy, simply. It gives me energy. And at times it can be therapeutic. Yes, it is wild and I love it!

     Do you have any tips or guidance for someone who is interested in starting?

    My tips for others interested in starting is: find safe dipping spots, alway have someone with you, have hot drinks and snacks ready and lots of loose, warm clothes. Thick shoes and gloves in neoprene or something similar gives you extra time when the water is freezing, or if you'd like to swim some distance. And don't rush it, take your time, adjusting in your own pace.

    You can follow Emma along in her outdoor swimming adventures via her Instagram HERE

    Immersion Techniques from the Professionals

    Being an extreme experience (of which we encourage all to approach very seriously), we turned to the self-proclaimed "serial chillers" over at The Outdoor Swimming Society for educated and professional tips on getting in (and out) of frigid waters : Dip information by Calum Maclean and Owen Hayman, and Barbara Hernandez Huerta from the Outdoor Swimming Society.

    • Break the ice - use something blunt! Location and accessibility are key.
    • Before entering the water, deciding on a specific area of water to swim in.
    • Be sure to set out warm clothes out prior to entering the water. Lay out your clothes by the order in which you will put them on. 
    • Always have support watching and waiting for you out of the water. 
    • Use ear plugs to maintain a higher body temperature.
    • Wear Neoprene socks to avoid cutting your feet without realizing (dont forget about he numbing power from freezing water)
    • Getting In - "Mentally, getting into the water is much tougher in winter and everyone has their own way but there’s a lot to be said for just toughening up and getting in. Talk to yourself out loud – I talk to myself anyway – but I find during swimming this helps me get in, to vocalise what I’m feeling... Take 90 seconds to walk in to full immersion.” - Calum
    • Never place your head underwater.
    • Respect your body, and know your limits - always.
    • Build up your immersion length over a gradual period of time, always keeping in mind your limits.
    • Getting out is just as important (if not moreso) than getting in
    • Get out quickly and dry yourself - mobilize your body to help circulation.
    • Pour warm (not hot) water onto your hands and feet to help cull the chill
    • "Sip a warm drink. Gentle exercise is good but don't overdo it. Warm up slowly." - Owen
    • Be safe, and most importantly "enjoy the experience!" - Barbara

    *Ice dipping can be dangerous. Know the risks and prepare yourself for all outcomes  - Read more about COLD SURVIVAL HERE

     

    Coverage Suggestions for Cold Water Immersion

    While our staff hasn't quite 'dipped' into the world of icy immersions - we compiled a list of coverage options we love, and asked Emma for her opinion on her go-to Seea suit!

    Emma's take on the Dara Surf Suit:
    "[The C-skin] feels a little different from my other neoprene suits, it feels as if it soaks the water in differently, more evenly, which is nice. It's also thick enough to give me some extra minutes in the water. And it gets proper wet, which is also nice, because you really want to feel that you have been in cold water after a dip! 
    I like that it's easy to put on and take off, soft and stretchy, good coverage on the right places, and thicker around the body than the arms. And it goes over the chest-bone, which tends to get the freeze!"
    And here's our list of great options highlighting other C-skin and easy entry/exit suits, plus our favorite terry-cloth robe!

    Glacial Gratitudes

    Whether it's for personal motivation, healing and therapy, or thrill of a new experience, there is no shortage of ways in which nature's waters provide transformational rites. No matter the season or hemisphere, in water we find new access points to life and self-love.

    Do you, or someone you know, love wearing Seea for extreme water sports or niche activities? We are compiling a list of some of our most inspirational women for future blog posts - we'd love to hear from you and see clips of you in action! Drop us a line with your name, sport (and any available photo/video highlights) over to Michelle@theseea.com

     

    Photos by: Atle Øksendal


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    1 comment


    • This is so cool! I’ve coincidentally decided to start cold dipping this winter after reading a book about Native Americans that mentioned this wise old tradition. I’m so happy to see people reconnecting with their roots and with nature, thank you for publishing this piece!

      Caleigh on

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