A Cold Plunge!

Frozen poolNicola here! There are many Christmas and New Year traditions that I enjoy. Most involve being cosy and warm, out of the elements, maybe eating special food or chatting with friends in front of the fire. I might even go for a brisk walk with the dog, particularly if it's been snowing. I've already been to the swimming pool in an attempt to start 2018 in a healthy fashion. And yet… Possibly my least favourite way to mark either Christmas or New Year would be by jumping into cold water. Perhaps I'm missing something, though, as every year, more and more people are taking the plunge to celebrate the festive season.

The tradition of "winter swimming", open air swimming in the winter season, has long been Brighton Swimming club associated with Epiphany in countries like Russia and in Eastern Europe but in the UK it has become popular for reasons varying from an extreme hangover cure to raising money for charity. The earliest record of the tradition in England seems to be from 1860 when the Brighton Swimming Club, which comprised a number of tradesmen from the town, met up at 7am every day for a dip in the sea. Apparently they had formed the club two years earlier when they had all decided they wanted to learn to swim, which is rather cute. Many other Christmas and New Year swims were established in the 20th century and have been running for approaching 100 years. Suitable garb these days can be anything from bikinis and mankinis to fancy dress and Santa costumes! 

Cleveland_Pools _BathLidos and open air swimming pools are nothing new, of course, but in the far north (or south) it does take a hardy spirit to embrace them. Whilst the first official lido in England was established in the Regency period at Cleveland Pools in Bath, there is a record of an open air pool at one of Oxford's colleges in the medieval period!

Have you ever celebrated the festive season with a plunge into cold water? Are there traditions like that near where you are? Or have you done something different but equally challenging to welcome in the New Year?

100 thoughts on “A Cold Plunge!”

  1. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Maine (for the benefit of Special Olympics) had to be postponed because we’re in a deep freeze. The water is around 40 degrees F but the air is below zero and wind chill takes it lower than that. We only dipped down to -3 here last night–a heat wave. But to answer your question, no you couldn’t get me into water that cold for any reason. I don’t even like to swim when it’s 90 out.

    Reply
  2. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Maine (for the benefit of Special Olympics) had to be postponed because we’re in a deep freeze. The water is around 40 degrees F but the air is below zero and wind chill takes it lower than that. We only dipped down to -3 here last night–a heat wave. But to answer your question, no you couldn’t get me into water that cold for any reason. I don’t even like to swim when it’s 90 out.

    Reply
  3. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Maine (for the benefit of Special Olympics) had to be postponed because we’re in a deep freeze. The water is around 40 degrees F but the air is below zero and wind chill takes it lower than that. We only dipped down to -3 here last night–a heat wave. But to answer your question, no you couldn’t get me into water that cold for any reason. I don’t even like to swim when it’s 90 out.

    Reply
  4. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Maine (for the benefit of Special Olympics) had to be postponed because we’re in a deep freeze. The water is around 40 degrees F but the air is below zero and wind chill takes it lower than that. We only dipped down to -3 here last night–a heat wave. But to answer your question, no you couldn’t get me into water that cold for any reason. I don’t even like to swim when it’s 90 out.

    Reply
  5. This year’s Polar Bear Plunge in Maine (for the benefit of Special Olympics) had to be postponed because we’re in a deep freeze. The water is around 40 degrees F but the air is below zero and wind chill takes it lower than that. We only dipped down to -3 here last night–a heat wave. But to answer your question, no you couldn’t get me into water that cold for any reason. I don’t even like to swim when it’s 90 out.

    Reply
  6. Last night I watched Kate Humble exploring the remote parts of Snowdonia with her sheep dog and a guest companion. At one point on the shore of a mountain lake the companion extolled the virtues of skinny dipping and they both took the plunge, watched by a bemused sheep dog … who stayed dry. Apparently the freedom of bathing nude is very invigorating but I didn’t feel tempted … its more of a spectator sport for me!

    Reply
  7. Last night I watched Kate Humble exploring the remote parts of Snowdonia with her sheep dog and a guest companion. At one point on the shore of a mountain lake the companion extolled the virtues of skinny dipping and they both took the plunge, watched by a bemused sheep dog … who stayed dry. Apparently the freedom of bathing nude is very invigorating but I didn’t feel tempted … its more of a spectator sport for me!

    Reply
  8. Last night I watched Kate Humble exploring the remote parts of Snowdonia with her sheep dog and a guest companion. At one point on the shore of a mountain lake the companion extolled the virtues of skinny dipping and they both took the plunge, watched by a bemused sheep dog … who stayed dry. Apparently the freedom of bathing nude is very invigorating but I didn’t feel tempted … its more of a spectator sport for me!

    Reply
  9. Last night I watched Kate Humble exploring the remote parts of Snowdonia with her sheep dog and a guest companion. At one point on the shore of a mountain lake the companion extolled the virtues of skinny dipping and they both took the plunge, watched by a bemused sheep dog … who stayed dry. Apparently the freedom of bathing nude is very invigorating but I didn’t feel tempted … its more of a spectator sport for me!

    Reply
  10. Last night I watched Kate Humble exploring the remote parts of Snowdonia with her sheep dog and a guest companion. At one point on the shore of a mountain lake the companion extolled the virtues of skinny dipping and they both took the plunge, watched by a bemused sheep dog … who stayed dry. Apparently the freedom of bathing nude is very invigorating but I didn’t feel tempted … its more of a spectator sport for me!

    Reply
  11. Every Christmas day in my county people do a swim to raise money for charity. I admire them greatly as I couldn’t imagine dipping myself in our freezing cold Atlantic waters. I have a great excuse though, I can’t swim. My brother did it one year for a cancer charity. It’s a wonderful thing to do but definitely not for me.

    Reply
  12. Every Christmas day in my county people do a swim to raise money for charity. I admire them greatly as I couldn’t imagine dipping myself in our freezing cold Atlantic waters. I have a great excuse though, I can’t swim. My brother did it one year for a cancer charity. It’s a wonderful thing to do but definitely not for me.

    Reply
  13. Every Christmas day in my county people do a swim to raise money for charity. I admire them greatly as I couldn’t imagine dipping myself in our freezing cold Atlantic waters. I have a great excuse though, I can’t swim. My brother did it one year for a cancer charity. It’s a wonderful thing to do but definitely not for me.

    Reply
  14. Every Christmas day in my county people do a swim to raise money for charity. I admire them greatly as I couldn’t imagine dipping myself in our freezing cold Atlantic waters. I have a great excuse though, I can’t swim. My brother did it one year for a cancer charity. It’s a wonderful thing to do but definitely not for me.

    Reply
  15. Every Christmas day in my county people do a swim to raise money for charity. I admire them greatly as I couldn’t imagine dipping myself in our freezing cold Atlantic waters. I have a great excuse though, I can’t swim. My brother did it one year for a cancer charity. It’s a wonderful thing to do but definitely not for me.

    Reply
  16. Goodness, what hardy folk! I have done some “wild swimming” in a Scottish loch, but nothing would have persuaded me to bathe nude, no matter how invigorating! I love the thought of the dog looking on in bemusement. When I go swimming with out dog he looks very put out as he thinks the water is his environment not ours!

    Reply
  17. Goodness, what hardy folk! I have done some “wild swimming” in a Scottish loch, but nothing would have persuaded me to bathe nude, no matter how invigorating! I love the thought of the dog looking on in bemusement. When I go swimming with out dog he looks very put out as he thinks the water is his environment not ours!

    Reply
  18. Goodness, what hardy folk! I have done some “wild swimming” in a Scottish loch, but nothing would have persuaded me to bathe nude, no matter how invigorating! I love the thought of the dog looking on in bemusement. When I go swimming with out dog he looks very put out as he thinks the water is his environment not ours!

    Reply
  19. Goodness, what hardy folk! I have done some “wild swimming” in a Scottish loch, but nothing would have persuaded me to bathe nude, no matter how invigorating! I love the thought of the dog looking on in bemusement. When I go swimming with out dog he looks very put out as he thinks the water is his environment not ours!

    Reply
  20. Goodness, what hardy folk! I have done some “wild swimming” in a Scottish loch, but nothing would have persuaded me to bathe nude, no matter how invigorating! I love the thought of the dog looking on in bemusement. When I go swimming with out dog he looks very put out as he thinks the water is his environment not ours!

    Reply
  21. I think Sherrie Holmes used to do the plunge up there in Washington state. Not for me. They say the Finns had it down to a science with their saunas.

    Reply
  22. I think Sherrie Holmes used to do the plunge up there in Washington state. Not for me. They say the Finns had it down to a science with their saunas.

    Reply
  23. I think Sherrie Holmes used to do the plunge up there in Washington state. Not for me. They say the Finns had it down to a science with their saunas.

    Reply
  24. I think Sherrie Holmes used to do the plunge up there in Washington state. Not for me. They say the Finns had it down to a science with their saunas.

    Reply
  25. I think Sherrie Holmes used to do the plunge up there in Washington state. Not for me. They say the Finns had it down to a science with their saunas.

    Reply
  26. My father and his next door neighbour used to swim at crack of dawn every morning, rain hail or shine. Dad had to stop when he became ill, but his friend next door kept it up into old age. He’d been doing it nearly all his life. Mind you, we’re not all that cold here, even in winter — Melbourne has what they call “a Mediterranean climate.”
    Years ago, I was in a small village in the mountains of Greece for Theophania. They broke the ice over the small stream that ran past the village, and the young men rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms in to retrieve the cross. Very practical. Further down the mountain, though, they dived into a freezing cold river.
    And yes, Nancy, Sherrie used to do the icy plunge — wearing a costume and rubber mask, if I remember correctly.

    Reply
  27. My father and his next door neighbour used to swim at crack of dawn every morning, rain hail or shine. Dad had to stop when he became ill, but his friend next door kept it up into old age. He’d been doing it nearly all his life. Mind you, we’re not all that cold here, even in winter — Melbourne has what they call “a Mediterranean climate.”
    Years ago, I was in a small village in the mountains of Greece for Theophania. They broke the ice over the small stream that ran past the village, and the young men rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms in to retrieve the cross. Very practical. Further down the mountain, though, they dived into a freezing cold river.
    And yes, Nancy, Sherrie used to do the icy plunge — wearing a costume and rubber mask, if I remember correctly.

    Reply
  28. My father and his next door neighbour used to swim at crack of dawn every morning, rain hail or shine. Dad had to stop when he became ill, but his friend next door kept it up into old age. He’d been doing it nearly all his life. Mind you, we’re not all that cold here, even in winter — Melbourne has what they call “a Mediterranean climate.”
    Years ago, I was in a small village in the mountains of Greece for Theophania. They broke the ice over the small stream that ran past the village, and the young men rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms in to retrieve the cross. Very practical. Further down the mountain, though, they dived into a freezing cold river.
    And yes, Nancy, Sherrie used to do the icy plunge — wearing a costume and rubber mask, if I remember correctly.

    Reply
  29. My father and his next door neighbour used to swim at crack of dawn every morning, rain hail or shine. Dad had to stop when he became ill, but his friend next door kept it up into old age. He’d been doing it nearly all his life. Mind you, we’re not all that cold here, even in winter — Melbourne has what they call “a Mediterranean climate.”
    Years ago, I was in a small village in the mountains of Greece for Theophania. They broke the ice over the small stream that ran past the village, and the young men rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms in to retrieve the cross. Very practical. Further down the mountain, though, they dived into a freezing cold river.
    And yes, Nancy, Sherrie used to do the icy plunge — wearing a costume and rubber mask, if I remember correctly.

    Reply
  30. My father and his next door neighbour used to swim at crack of dawn every morning, rain hail or shine. Dad had to stop when he became ill, but his friend next door kept it up into old age. He’d been doing it nearly all his life. Mind you, we’re not all that cold here, even in winter — Melbourne has what they call “a Mediterranean climate.”
    Years ago, I was in a small village in the mountains of Greece for Theophania. They broke the ice over the small stream that ran past the village, and the young men rolled up their sleeves and plunged their arms in to retrieve the cross. Very practical. Further down the mountain, though, they dived into a freezing cold river.
    And yes, Nancy, Sherrie used to do the icy plunge — wearing a costume and rubber mask, if I remember correctly.

    Reply
  31. I know they do it in Chicago (but didn’t notice if they did it this year); Lake Michigan in winter would be nothing to be happy about.
    NO, I wouldn’t ever had done it, even when I was younger. I don’t handle cold temperature well.

    Reply
  32. I know they do it in Chicago (but didn’t notice if they did it this year); Lake Michigan in winter would be nothing to be happy about.
    NO, I wouldn’t ever had done it, even when I was younger. I don’t handle cold temperature well.

    Reply
  33. I know they do it in Chicago (but didn’t notice if they did it this year); Lake Michigan in winter would be nothing to be happy about.
    NO, I wouldn’t ever had done it, even when I was younger. I don’t handle cold temperature well.

    Reply
  34. I know they do it in Chicago (but didn’t notice if they did it this year); Lake Michigan in winter would be nothing to be happy about.
    NO, I wouldn’t ever had done it, even when I was younger. I don’t handle cold temperature well.

    Reply
  35. I know they do it in Chicago (but didn’t notice if they did it this year); Lake Michigan in winter would be nothing to be happy about.
    NO, I wouldn’t ever had done it, even when I was younger. I don’t handle cold temperature well.

    Reply
  36. Yep – Ukrainian here. This time of year you’re guaranteed that the news in Eastern Europe will be full of stories of people doing this.
    I have never, and – unless by accident! – will never do something so insane. 🙂

    Reply
  37. Yep – Ukrainian here. This time of year you’re guaranteed that the news in Eastern Europe will be full of stories of people doing this.
    I have never, and – unless by accident! – will never do something so insane. 🙂

    Reply
  38. Yep – Ukrainian here. This time of year you’re guaranteed that the news in Eastern Europe will be full of stories of people doing this.
    I have never, and – unless by accident! – will never do something so insane. 🙂

    Reply
  39. Yep – Ukrainian here. This time of year you’re guaranteed that the news in Eastern Europe will be full of stories of people doing this.
    I have never, and – unless by accident! – will never do something so insane. 🙂

    Reply
  40. Yep – Ukrainian here. This time of year you’re guaranteed that the news in Eastern Europe will be full of stories of people doing this.
    I have never, and – unless by accident! – will never do something so insane. 🙂

    Reply
  41. That sounds rather nice, Anne, in a Mediterranean type of climate as opposed to an arctic one. I do admire people who have the fortitude to do this. Jumping into a loch in Scotland in August was still too cold for me!

    Reply
  42. That sounds rather nice, Anne, in a Mediterranean type of climate as opposed to an arctic one. I do admire people who have the fortitude to do this. Jumping into a loch in Scotland in August was still too cold for me!

    Reply
  43. That sounds rather nice, Anne, in a Mediterranean type of climate as opposed to an arctic one. I do admire people who have the fortitude to do this. Jumping into a loch in Scotland in August was still too cold for me!

    Reply
  44. That sounds rather nice, Anne, in a Mediterranean type of climate as opposed to an arctic one. I do admire people who have the fortitude to do this. Jumping into a loch in Scotland in August was still too cold for me!

    Reply
  45. That sounds rather nice, Anne, in a Mediterranean type of climate as opposed to an arctic one. I do admire people who have the fortitude to do this. Jumping into a loch in Scotland in August was still too cold for me!

    Reply
  46. It’s important to know our limits, Sue! I prefer being very cold to very hot, but not if doused in freezing water. I think those who can cope with it are amazing though but we all have different strengths!

    Reply
  47. It’s important to know our limits, Sue! I prefer being very cold to very hot, but not if doused in freezing water. I think those who can cope with it are amazing though but we all have different strengths!

    Reply
  48. It’s important to know our limits, Sue! I prefer being very cold to very hot, but not if doused in freezing water. I think those who can cope with it are amazing though but we all have different strengths!

    Reply
  49. It’s important to know our limits, Sue! I prefer being very cold to very hot, but not if doused in freezing water. I think those who can cope with it are amazing though but we all have different strengths!

    Reply
  50. It’s important to know our limits, Sue! I prefer being very cold to very hot, but not if doused in freezing water. I think those who can cope with it are amazing though but we all have different strengths!

    Reply
  51. LOL, Sonya! I am very impressed by the hardiness of those people who can take that sort of cold in their stride. When I lived in the north of England I was definitely tougher than I am now after 30 years in the south.

    Reply
  52. LOL, Sonya! I am very impressed by the hardiness of those people who can take that sort of cold in their stride. When I lived in the north of England I was definitely tougher than I am now after 30 years in the south.

    Reply
  53. LOL, Sonya! I am very impressed by the hardiness of those people who can take that sort of cold in their stride. When I lived in the north of England I was definitely tougher than I am now after 30 years in the south.

    Reply
  54. LOL, Sonya! I am very impressed by the hardiness of those people who can take that sort of cold in their stride. When I lived in the north of England I was definitely tougher than I am now after 30 years in the south.

    Reply
  55. LOL, Sonya! I am very impressed by the hardiness of those people who can take that sort of cold in their stride. When I lived in the north of England I was definitely tougher than I am now after 30 years in the south.

    Reply
  56. My friend in Chi-town sent me a photo of his digital thermometer on New Years Day: 1.5F at 10 am. Doesn’t sound like a good day for a swim!

    Reply
  57. My friend in Chi-town sent me a photo of his digital thermometer on New Years Day: 1.5F at 10 am. Doesn’t sound like a good day for a swim!

    Reply
  58. My friend in Chi-town sent me a photo of his digital thermometer on New Years Day: 1.5F at 10 am. Doesn’t sound like a good day for a swim!

    Reply
  59. My friend in Chi-town sent me a photo of his digital thermometer on New Years Day: 1.5F at 10 am. Doesn’t sound like a good day for a swim!

    Reply
  60. My friend in Chi-town sent me a photo of his digital thermometer on New Years Day: 1.5F at 10 am. Doesn’t sound like a good day for a swim!

    Reply
  61. The few times we visited my grandparents in Canada I refused to stick my whole body in the water – and that was in July! My legs or feet for a brief moment but my body. Yikes!
    One of my nieces went to Iceland last year in the winter and went swimming in a heated pool outside. But still…there was SNOW on the ground…you were wet when you got out! No no no no… There were tons of people in that swimming pool.
    One of my nephews likes jumping into Lake Lanier on the 1st of Jan but I don’t know that he did it this year…
    GA (US) has been experiencing very weirdly cold weather. It snowed in Savannah yesterday. In fact they had a huge ice storm as well as the snow.

    Reply
  62. The few times we visited my grandparents in Canada I refused to stick my whole body in the water – and that was in July! My legs or feet for a brief moment but my body. Yikes!
    One of my nieces went to Iceland last year in the winter and went swimming in a heated pool outside. But still…there was SNOW on the ground…you were wet when you got out! No no no no… There were tons of people in that swimming pool.
    One of my nephews likes jumping into Lake Lanier on the 1st of Jan but I don’t know that he did it this year…
    GA (US) has been experiencing very weirdly cold weather. It snowed in Savannah yesterday. In fact they had a huge ice storm as well as the snow.

    Reply
  63. The few times we visited my grandparents in Canada I refused to stick my whole body in the water – and that was in July! My legs or feet for a brief moment but my body. Yikes!
    One of my nieces went to Iceland last year in the winter and went swimming in a heated pool outside. But still…there was SNOW on the ground…you were wet when you got out! No no no no… There were tons of people in that swimming pool.
    One of my nephews likes jumping into Lake Lanier on the 1st of Jan but I don’t know that he did it this year…
    GA (US) has been experiencing very weirdly cold weather. It snowed in Savannah yesterday. In fact they had a huge ice storm as well as the snow.

    Reply
  64. The few times we visited my grandparents in Canada I refused to stick my whole body in the water – and that was in July! My legs or feet for a brief moment but my body. Yikes!
    One of my nieces went to Iceland last year in the winter and went swimming in a heated pool outside. But still…there was SNOW on the ground…you were wet when you got out! No no no no… There were tons of people in that swimming pool.
    One of my nephews likes jumping into Lake Lanier on the 1st of Jan but I don’t know that he did it this year…
    GA (US) has been experiencing very weirdly cold weather. It snowed in Savannah yesterday. In fact they had a huge ice storm as well as the snow.

    Reply
  65. The few times we visited my grandparents in Canada I refused to stick my whole body in the water – and that was in July! My legs or feet for a brief moment but my body. Yikes!
    One of my nieces went to Iceland last year in the winter and went swimming in a heated pool outside. But still…there was SNOW on the ground…you were wet when you got out! No no no no… There were tons of people in that swimming pool.
    One of my nephews likes jumping into Lake Lanier on the 1st of Jan but I don’t know that he did it this year…
    GA (US) has been experiencing very weirdly cold weather. It snowed in Savannah yesterday. In fact they had a huge ice storm as well as the snow.

    Reply
  66. There is some very weird weather out there, Vicki. I can’t even imagine an ice storm in Savannah. It must be so strange to experience that when you’re not used to those conditions.
    I have to admit that I have swum in a heated outdoor pool in Iceland when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd to have a very hot body and a very cold head. Getting out was by far the worst bit but then I am a wimp; I hated that in Bath last summer when the temperature was relatively pleasant!

    Reply
  67. There is some very weird weather out there, Vicki. I can’t even imagine an ice storm in Savannah. It must be so strange to experience that when you’re not used to those conditions.
    I have to admit that I have swum in a heated outdoor pool in Iceland when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd to have a very hot body and a very cold head. Getting out was by far the worst bit but then I am a wimp; I hated that in Bath last summer when the temperature was relatively pleasant!

    Reply
  68. There is some very weird weather out there, Vicki. I can’t even imagine an ice storm in Savannah. It must be so strange to experience that when you’re not used to those conditions.
    I have to admit that I have swum in a heated outdoor pool in Iceland when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd to have a very hot body and a very cold head. Getting out was by far the worst bit but then I am a wimp; I hated that in Bath last summer when the temperature was relatively pleasant!

    Reply
  69. There is some very weird weather out there, Vicki. I can’t even imagine an ice storm in Savannah. It must be so strange to experience that when you’re not used to those conditions.
    I have to admit that I have swum in a heated outdoor pool in Iceland when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd to have a very hot body and a very cold head. Getting out was by far the worst bit but then I am a wimp; I hated that in Bath last summer when the temperature was relatively pleasant!

    Reply
  70. There is some very weird weather out there, Vicki. I can’t even imagine an ice storm in Savannah. It must be so strange to experience that when you’re not used to those conditions.
    I have to admit that I have swum in a heated outdoor pool in Iceland when there was snow on the ground. It felt very odd to have a very hot body and a very cold head. Getting out was by far the worst bit but then I am a wimp; I hated that in Bath last summer when the temperature was relatively pleasant!

    Reply

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