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5 Winter Swimming Essentials From Frigid-Water Swimmer Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Set yourself up to love it

Now in her second year of winter swimming in open water, Patricia Garcia-Gomez has the intel on the best gear to stay safe and comfortable in the icy waters.

I am of the firm belief that anyone can become friends with winter water. Even those of you who just cringed and said to yourself: well, not me. I invite you all in. There is something so magical about winter water. It will not only call you to your senses (literally taking your breath away, which I like), but if you are open to it, and you go slowly, it will introduce you to a whole new world of subtlety and wonderment. Believe it or not, the cold is perhaps the least interesting sensation…after a while.

This is my second year of winter swimming in open water, and I have developed my own approach and methodology, which I now share with others. Winter water has brought me the most wonderful assortment of brave, curious, courageous people who have asked me to walk them into the water. Cold water conjures deep, primal, impossible-feeling fear, but on the other side of it awaits joy in equal measure. I have witnessed people move from total gripping to total exuberance, almost as if they are meeting themselves for the first time, and it’s such a huge honor. Once someone discovers their relationship with water, it’s theirs forever. Especially cold water.

My Top 5 Winter Swimming Essentials

I swim out on the North Fork of Long Island. Today’s air temperature 26, sea 34, wind South 10 mph. These are my favorite high-performing gear picks that give me either the insulation, comfort, or peace of mind (sometimes all three) to enjoy the water more. The most critical and fun, however, especially in the winter, is human: a swim buddy. 

1. A good pair of swim gloves and socks. For me, hands and feet are critical. I have cold hands and feet even in the summer. Because your extremities lose heat faster than your core, once your hands and feet are over-cold, the swim is over. Why I like these: They fit well, are sleek (even at 3.5mm), liquid-sealed so water doesn’t get in, and have a Velcro closure to really fit. So many gloves and booties I’ve tried gape and rush with cold water after a few uses. These keep their form. As an added bonus, the socks slide right into my Laguna fins so I don’t have to give up this extra bit of workout in the winter.

Neoprene heat-tech swim gloves. Image courtesy of zone3.us.
Neoprene heat-tech swim socks. Image courtesy of zone3.us.

2. Neoprene bathing suit. This Zone 3 suit solves so many issues. It fits well and gives you extra insulation and buoyancy but, most importantly, it doesn’t feel “wet” against your skin. This is especially appreciated on a windy day. A cold suit is no fun. This is so much more pleasant. All of my cold water swim buddies have one now. For men, a pair of buoyancy shorts saves the day. These move well and keep the most sensitive bits warm (no more excuses).

Zone 3 women’s neoprene suit. Image courtesy zone3.US
RŌKA Men’s SIM Pro II buoyancy shorts. Image courtesy roka.com.

3. A thermal skull cap. I wear a Blueseventy cap over a silicone swim cap, to keep my head as dry and warm as possible.

4. A big water-proof robe with lots of pockets. I resisted buying one of these for a long time; this year, I finally caved. Why I love my dryrobe®: No more futzing with zippers and layers of clothing on and off in the sand. Wear just this over your suit, toss it to the side when you get in, jump right back in when you get out, use it as changing station to get back into dry clothes.  

The long sleeve dryrobe. Part cover up, part changing room. Image courtesy dryrobe.com

5. A brightly colored safety buoy, which keeps you visible in the open water. My swim buddy brought it to my attention, and I’m hugely grateful. This buoy also doubles as a dry bag. 

Zone 3 swim safety buoy and dry bag. Image courtesy zone3.us

Bonus
My favorite post-cold-water-swim ritual: a hot cocoa made with Anima Mundi’s raw heirloom cacao powder. Magic. Deeply warming and satisfying. 

The planet’s best cacao, from Anima Mundi. Image courtesy animamundiherbals.com.

Follow Patricia’s frigid swims on Instagram

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Dates May 21-27, 2022

Why sign up now RewildRestore’s second annual retreat will be small, spacious, and extra special. Limited to 10 participants. 

Who it’s for The RewildRestore experience is for anyone aspiring to live a courageous and creative life, and reset down to the cellular level. The experience is curated to provide a luxurious immersion in nature, the senses, place, and a physicality of the elements. Water. Ritual. Presence of the ancient. The unknown yet to be revealed. You will come away deeply nourished, with a new way of listening and sensing, and deeper connection with water, ritual, ceremony and self.

Save your space Connect with Patricia at RewildRestore.

The rhythm of the Aegean, RewildRestore

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Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez is a writer and artist working with visual media and sound. She is the editor of Travel by Ageist and a contributor to the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and The Private Journal (Europe). Her work is also part of the permanent archives of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Buhl Collection, and The Harwood Museum in New Mexico.

 

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