Addictive magic found in extreme cold water swimming

Sea water temps are much colder in Ireland now, about 8-10 Celsius. I hear -4 C in Cork this morning. But that doesn’t stop a hardy network of all year round sea swimmers from cracking the ice with hurley sticks and getting into lakes and the Irish sea in their togs. Overcoming your fear (of the extreme cold water shock) is a powerful act. The adrenaline rush is much greater when the water is colder.

For me, it’s life-affirming, a spiritual act and great craic.

“A lot of the time when we go swimming in winter, we’re only in for five or 10 minutes, but that release of endorphins and serotonin floods in and stays in your body pretty much the whole day,” the 49-year-old says. “You might be going down for a swim and be thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this’. There’s a huge nervousness that can come into play before you get into the water, but once you get in and you’ve had that dip, there’s that physical release, and there’s the psychological thing that you’ve approached something that was initially a challenge.”

Cormac Staunton