You may have seen on social media the different ways swimmers are getting their water fix; in endless pools, paddling pools and tethered pool set-ups in the back garden. Many regular outdoor swimmers have found some water to quell their thirst and are swimming where it is safe to do so in local lakes or rivers.

At Swim the Lakes we love open water swimming and we love helping you get in the water. While we can’t actually guide you in some swimming adventures during the current virus precautions we can help you make decisions about the right kit to keep up your passion and help you stay warm when swimming in cold water.

It is early spring and quite nippy out there so for most outdoor swims, whether it’s a garden pool or a river pool, layers of neoprene such as gloves, socks, vests and caps will take the sting out of the cold.

Neoprene vests and base layers

Neoprene vests and base layers add a thin layer of warmth around your core and make a long cold swim much more realistic. The Zone3 warmth vest can be worn under wetsuits or on their own.

You can lose a lot of heat through exposed hands, feet and head plus it can be mighty painful so make sure you have these extremities covered too.

Zone3 Warm Neoprene swim vest

Neoprene Gloves and Socks

It’s usually your hands and feet that tend to suffer first in the cold so make sure you get some good close-fitting gloves and socks.
You’re looking at 2-3mm thickness gloves for March to early May. Plus it’s key to choose a pair with liquid-sealed seams, this ensures water doesn’t move through your gloves keeping your hands cold. Read this article on selecting the right swim glove Swim Glove Sizing for Swimmers, or try our favourites C-Skins Wired Gloves and Zone3 Heat-Tech Gloves.

The warmest socks we have found are the C-Skins 4mm Warm Swim socks, but you need to balance this with the extra buoyancy they give the feet, we also really rate the Zone3 Heat-Tech socks at 3.5mm they’re not quite as buoyant.

Skins Wired 3mm glove pair

C Skins Wired Neoprene Gloves

Neoprene Swim Caps

For your head you could choose to wear 2 silicone caps which work well and are not too buoyant, however for more comfort and cold protection take a look at the neoprene caps; the Zone3 caps have an adjustable chin strap, we also stock a strapless neoprene cap option.

As with all neoprene swimming accessories getting the right close fit is important so do check size guides or get in touch for advice.

shows hi-vis orange neoprene swim cap with chin strap

Zone3 Hi-Vis Neoprene Cap


You might be surprised to learn that goggles can help keep you warm too.
A swimming mask that covers the sensitive part of your forehead can really help reduce that ‘ice-cream head’ feeling and make your head much more comfortable.
Our favourites are the Vista-Pro goggles from Aqua Sphere, they offer that extra range of vision and fit, but the classic Vista goggle is also worth a look.

Top Tip: Earplugs reduce the cold water ingress into the ears which can help reduce dizziness.

Swim Safety Float

Safety comes first when swimming outdoors. We always recommend taking a swim safety float with you, they are bright and designed to keep you visible to others in the water whether it’s your spotter on the shore or watercraft. They also help boost confidence with their readily available buoyancy and some have storage compartments to provide a safe place to keep keys, clothes etc.
Take a Puffin Swim safety float, developed by Swim the Lakes, with you, it will become your best swim buddy.

Now that’s your swim kit sorted but don’t you also need something cosy and warm to wrap yourself in when you get out? You certainly need to treat yourself to a Dryrobe Advance Change Robe or at least get it on your Christmas list.

dryrobe changing robes

Cosy Dryrobe Advance

If you need any advice please contact us at our Ambleside store.
Stay Warm, Stay Visible but above all Stay Safe and we’ll be seeing you in the water very soon.

The Swim the Lakes Team