Learning How Best To Deal With The Cold By Nuala Moore
The words of appreciation overcame Nuala Moore like a large ocean swell on a high tide under rough conditions. “That was just amazing and so much relevant information. I can’t wait to practice the water rescues…bring on the next lecture,” said Ester of Co Down.
“Thanks for the webinar. It was fantastic information as always. Your passion is very evident and it was great to hear your stories. I felt it was perfectly pitched to those starting out in cold water swimming. Looking forward to future webinars,” said John of Cork.
“Thanks a million. The talk was very enjoyable and very interesting. It brings home the message that it’s important not to be cavalier about the sea. It just takes a quick change of circumstances for everything to go wrong,” said Pat of Co Meath.
“I really enjoyed last nights webinar and got a lot of info from it. I had a chat to my swim buddies and there’s between 6 and 8 of us, that would love to participate in the adult rescue program. As I said last night, we know not to swim alone where possible, but we don’t have the skills to help another swimmer to shore or out of the water,” said Fiona of Co Sligo.
“Wow Nuala, that was superb. I absolutely love learning, and I can honestly say i got a lot out of tonight. I was particularly happy to see that we are very similar in our safety beliefs and advices. Good to know I am on the right track. Definitely interested in the next intermediate webinar,” said Gráinne of Cork.
Moore developed and offers a series of webinars for beginner and intermediate swimmers that teaches about cold water swimming within their safety margins. Her webinars include “It’s Not About the Swim”, “Ocean Energy” and “Are you Rescue Ready?” that offers insight into the risks and challenges of cold water swimming.
Moore explains, “The sea is not a swimming pool. Add in the cold and swimmers who chose to swim distance in 10°C water and below, and you can have a complex cocktail. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown of swimming pools, many swimmers began swimming in the sea for the first time. Warm-water swimmers are now continuing into their first winter, their first time in freezing temperatures. There are many risks attached to swimming in cold water.
As winter moved in, temperatures dropped both in the sea and the air. For the first time, these swimmers began to experience much difficulty with the cold. There were additional problems with understanding of tides, weather, currents and cold water.
Over a period of multiple weekends, The Royal National Lifeboats Institution and the Coast Guard responded to large numbers of open water swimmers who were getting into difficulty for no reason, except a lack of awareness and a lack of understanding of cold water swimming. So I created a series of 2-hour education webinars, focusing on situational awareness, cold water injuries, and personal responsibility. I focus on cold shock, cold water incapacitation, and rewarming to assist, to educate, and mostly to develop an understanding of cold water swimming including its risks and the challenges.
I ran six of the webinars in November, reaching hundreds of swimmer. I will continue again in January. We can’t effect change on all behavior, but we can hope to create ripples in the community.
It is so important that as swimmers, who are experts in our fields, work hard to create a basis of understanding on the challenges. We all started somewhere and much of that ended in swimmers needing assistance. This all comes from learning.
Conditions along Ireland’s coastline change drastically in autumn and winter when compared to our summertime. Throughout autumn, the RNLI and the many search and rescue organizations who work closely along our coasts see large increases in the number of people getting into trouble in the sea while swimming.”
Irish Coast Guard concurs, “There has been a noted increase in the number of incidents in relation to open water swimming resulting in increased demands being placed on SAR organisations, including Coast Guard and RNLI. Over the past week, eight separate incidents arose in the Dublin Wicklow area alone with a number of other incidents being reported around the country. Most people who participate in open water swimming do so safely, but some and, in particular those who are new to the sport, may be unaware of important safety measures which can help them avoid getting into difficulty.”
Moore continued, “It is really important to understand that cold water distance swimming is a new area in the sport. Back in 2011 In Ireland, there were very few swimmers swimming more than a few hundred meters, in less than 10°C water. Both Anne Marie Ward and I began training for distance that year and completed our first Ice Miles at 5°C. We fumbled along. We made many mistakes and mostly, our understanding of the cold has changed so much with education. I started working and learning from our Russian friends and developed a passion for understanding how the body responds to cold water so we can continue to swim distance in cold water in a safe manner, and within the margins of risk for us swimmers.”
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