Do You Get Better As You Age In The Cold?

Do You Get Better As You Age In The Cold?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

With Happy Helen Lin‘s accomplishment of the Ice Mile in Boston, it brings to mind a series of interesting questions related to age versus cold water acclimatization.

The first question is, “At what age does one ‘peak’ for cold water acclimatization? Is it in an athlete’s teenage years or in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or greater?

The second more fundamental questions is, “Is there any relationship between age and cold water swimming capabilities? In other words, does cold water swimming success only relate to the degree of one’s own physical and mental training?

Some swimmers believe that they are improving in the cold water getting better as they age. Some swimmers not only seem to be improve in terms of their ability to swim further in the cold water, but also faster.

In most sports, there is a generally understood age of ‘peak’ performance (e.g., teenage years for female gymnasts), but is there is such a ‘peak age’ in the sport of ice swimming? It gets complicated because there are 3 parameters in which one can judge one’s improvement:

(1) duration in the water (i.e., how long a swimmer can last in water 5°C or less in terms of time)
(2) water temperature itself (i.e., what is the minimum water temperature an individual can handle for a specific number of meters or time duration)
(3) speed in the water (i.e., what is one’s absolute best time for 100m or 1 km)

Over time, these questions may be answered…the sport of winter swimming and ice swimming is very much in its early stages relative to other forms of aquatics and other extreme sports.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones