Winter Dipping Guidelines

Winter Dipping Guidelines

These are guidelines only, please take full responsibility for yourself and anyone in your care.

Never dip alone

Our number one rule is to never dip alone. This doesn’t mean you need someone to go into the water with you, but having someone on dry land who can watch you while you dip is perfect. Ensure that the person watching you has a phone with them with signal and also ensure you have both discussed any signals which you may use should you get into difficulty e.g., waving your arm(s).

Photography Dan Prince


Always have a Tow Float

Never dip without a Tow Float, even if conditions are mild, you never know when you might need to rely on a float, whether it’s to *take a rest or to be seen by others.

That said, remember the float is there for safety purposes and is not for leisure *it’s advised not to float around aimlessly with your float (i.e. don’t remove your feet off the sea floor) as you may quickly get into trouble if the wind or tide push you in the wrong direction.

Photography Dan Prince


Carry a waterproof phone case

Yes we all love a selfie in the sea, but you never know when you might need to make a call to the emergency services for either yourself or someone else. Always ensure your phone is easily accessible.

Tow-Jo Tow Float with phone case


Entering the water – breathe

Always walk slowly into the water, remember to notice your breath and breathe slowly (the cold takes our breath away, sometimes inducing a sense of panic and speeding up the heart rate), ensure the exhalation is longer than the inhalation, this will bring your heart rate down and help relax your mind and body. Going into the cold is a stress on the body (remember stress is not a bad thing, plus, it boosts your immune system), if you can train yourself to handle this ‘stressful’ situation using the breath, you can start using the breath to help manage other stressful situations.

Photography Dan Prince


Stay within your depth

When you enter the water, notice if there’s a pull on your ankles. Take notice of where your entry point is (normally where your bag/towel etc is). If the pull is dangerously strong and almost sweeping you off your feet then it is strongly advised to exit the water. If it feels safe to enter then simply go thigh deep and splash your face and neck with water then dip your shoulders under the water and relax, breathe. Keep your feet firmly on the ground at all times, also, keeping your hands on your thighs can help you feel warmer.

Keep an eye on your surroundings and also check your entry point is still inline with where you are to ensure you aren’t being pushed along the shore line.

Photography Sam Jeffries Petrie


Be aware of the time

Check the time when you enter the water and know your own capabilities, if you are brand new to dipping then during the winter months up to 1 minute might be enough, everyone adapts to the cold differently, some are able to stay in the water for 20 mins plus, for others less than a minute is sufficient. Ensure you time your dip, it’s easy to lose track of time especially when you have company in the water. Don’t feel like you need to be staying in as long as others do – build up your cold exposure time slowly.

Photography Sam Jeffries Petrie

Warming up

Once you have exited the water, you will no doubt be feeling high and buzzing. Keep your focus inward and put on your robe, removing your wet cossy right away. Get dried and get ready and don’t forget to put on your dry hat and gloves and whatever else you add to make yourself nice and toasty.

We recommend drinking something warm and sweet, but avoid caffeine as this restricts the blood flow and makes the process of warming the body back up more difficult.

If you over do the time in the cold water, not only is this dangerous but it also depletes our energy as our body has had to work hard to keep the core warm. So if you’re off to work after your dip, be aware of this as you may feel very tired. This is also where the sugary food or drink can come in handy as it can help replace that lost energy. Try our recommended drink (Ceremonial Cacao)

Photography Dan Prince

Wear plenty of layers

Wrap up well, lots of loose layers work best. Ensure you are warm before going into the cold water, i.e. arrive at your dipping location fully wrapped up.

We recommend having 2 warm hats (one that you can wear one in the water and the spare will be good to have for when you come out – just incase one gets wet by those sneaky waves that generally catch us out just as we’re about to get out of the sea thinking we’d managed to keep our head dry!

Photography Dan Prince

Dipping when it’s dark

During the winter it’s common to dip when it’s dark, especially if you need to go outside of working hours.

Follow all of the guidelines above but also ensure you are well lit up, have a torch or bike light inside your tow float (you may need to put it inside a clear sandwich bag or a phone case if your tow float isn’t leak proof).

Wear a bright coloured hat or swim cap – perhaps buy a head torch too or a hat with a light on it.

Ensure you have good lighting so that you know where to exit, you’ll also need lighting to help know where your gear is.

We strongly advise to sit or lie very close to the shoreline when its dark

Photography Sam Jeffries Petrie


If you follow these guidelines you should not need to take further measures to warm up. If you are struggling to get warm then this is a sign you have over done it.


Extra info – what to bring to the beach in the winter

Swim Suit (Bikini/costume or wetsuit & neoprene gloves boots if needed)

Tow Float

A large towel or robe

Phone with waterproof case

Plenty warm clothes including gloves and scarf

a warm hat (and an extra if wearing in the sea)

Warms socks and boots

A large weatherproof bag to keep your clothes dry

Hot water bottles (one for under each armpit)

A warm sweet drink (no caffeine)

A bath mat (or similar) to stand on – during the winter, the sand is often frozen


Apps worth downloading

My Tide Times – always know where the tide is at before taking your dip. The water is moving at its slowest an hour before and an hour after high tide and low tide. Also know that high tides will be higher and low tides will be lower on a full and new Moon due to the gravitational pull. Rip currents tend to have a stronger pull at low tide.

Magic Seaweed – check wave height and wind strength/direction for your local beach (only available to check this information at surf beaches).

Windy – check wind, wave forecast – watch out for strong offshore winds and avoid entering the water during this time.


If a fellow dipper gets into difficulty then call the coastguards on 999. In the meantime, ensure you are safe and do not attempt to rescue unless you are 100% sure it is safe for you to do so, i.e. you have a lifebuoy you can throw to them or you are in shallow enough water to reach them. Otherwise, if you’re able to then instruct the other dipper to float on their back and reassure them that you have called for help. Remember, when someone is in difficulty in the water, they will grab onto anything which is floating (possibly you if you’re close enough to grab which could mean that you both end up in trouble).


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