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Winter Swimming and Wind!

Winter Swimming is an immensely rewarding activity and while the water demands respect all year round, this must be greater during the winter months when the weather can be more challenging! There is much to learn about the winter swimming environment so talk about wind.

What is Wind? Simply put wind is the movement of air from a high pressure to a low pressure. Wind can range from a gentle local breeze to full thunderstorms. Wind direction is usually described by the direction it originated from. Eg. A Westerly wind will blow from West to East.

Heading out for a swim on a windy day? Here are a few things to think about:

  • How strong is the wind?

  • What direction is it coming from

  • What direction is your swim spot facing?

  • Is the wind easing or increasing as the day goes on?

  • What is the air temperature?

  • Is it due to rain, hail or snow during the time you are swimming also?

Should I cancel my swim due to strong winds?

Strong winds don't mean you need to miss out on your swim, but they may mean you need to think about plans prior to leaving. You may want to think about the location you are going to and how the wind will affect the conditions. Strong winds can cause waves and potential debris to be blown onto your swimming spot.

You will also need to think about how the wind will feel against your skin when getting changed both before your swim and after. This is sometimes referred to as wind chill. Wind chill is the combined cooling effect of the wind and the temperature. By knowing what the air temperature and the wind speed is, you will be able to make a better choice in swim location and post swim clothing.

For a handy wee wind chill chart from the National Weather Service click on the file below!

Download PDF • 203KB

When swimming in winter remember to

  • Listen to your own body

  • Check the weather forecast

  • Quickly change from your wet swimmers

  • Layer your clothing

  • Avoid going alone

Fun Fact: Cairngorm summit weather station holds the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded in the UK at an eye watering 176 mph!

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