Sea swimming has so many benefits from cold water therapy and mental health benefits to overall cardiovascular fitness. There is something really special about swimming in the open water, but we also understand that it can be daunting. That is why we’ve put together some quick and easy tips on how you can start your sea swimming journey.

What swims should I start with?

Sea Swimming Wicklow

There are so many different places to swim in Ireland, some are easier than others, so if you’re just starting out sea swimming we highly recommend that you stick to sheltered beaches and coves that have a gradual descent into the sea with plenty of other sea swimmers around. If you are unfamiliar with a swimming spot try to find a local who swims regularly as they will be able to provide you with all of the information you need to swim safely.

12 Sea Swimming Spots in Ireland that will Take your Breath Away

Five quick tips for beginner sea swimmers

1. Check the weather before you swim

The weather in Ireland is so temperamental, so it is essential to be aware of the weather conditions before getting into the water, especially as a beginner. The last thing you want is to be caught out by bad weather and struggle to get out of the water. If there is nobody else in the water, take a moment to look at the conditions and if in doubt skip the swim and return on a better day.

2. Go swimming with a group

It is always safer to swim with a group or at a beach with a lifeguard. The more eyes that are on you, the safer you will be.

3. Bring a hot drink in a thermal flask to warm up after you swim

Honestly, this is so underrated but absolutely essential to get your core body temperature up after a long cold swim.

4. Bring warm clothes for after your swim

Changing robes, tracksuit bottoms, jumpers, and blankets – bring as many warm items of clothing as you think you will need to warm up. It’s all about cosy layers!

5. Acclimatise

The best way to acclimatise yourself to sea swimming is to start in the warmer months and continuously swim at least once a week as the temperature starts to drop. However, if you have missed the mark, but are still dying to start then you are better off starting with a wetsuit and slowly allowing your body to get used to the cold seawater.

What gear do I need to start sea swimming?

Gear is an important aspect when you’re starting anything new, so we’ve compiled a list of the best gear to get you started with sea swimming.

1. Changing Robes

coucon changing robe

You will be chilly when getting out of the sea in Ireland, especially in winter. And while a changing robe is by no means an essential item, it’s one we reckon you won’t be able to part with if you do make the investment.

We Recommend: Coucon changing robe

2. Tow Float/ Dry Bag


It is so important you are visible in the water. A dry bag is a multi-functional piece of kit – it will ensure you are visible to other water users, it gives you something to hang on to if you need a rest (it can support an adult’s weight when used as a buoy) and it will keep your valuables safe and dry. So if we were to recommend one essential piece of kit to keep you safe as a beginner sea swimmer it would be a good dry bag.

We Recommend: 28l Swim Secure Dry Bag from Portwest

3. Goggles

Zone3-Venator-X-Swim-Goggles-1 Sea swimming

Goggles can improve your open water swimming experience so much. They allow you to see into the depths of the Atlantic or Irish Sea and truly experience the beauty of our country’s waters. Be sure to invest in goggles with wide-angle, curved lenses, and an anti-fog coating for the best experience when swimming.

We Recommend: Zone3 Venator-X Swim Goggles from Surfdock

4. Ear Plugs

earplugs for sea swimming

No one likes swimmer’s ear, and if you’re spending large amounts of time in cold water you need to protect yourself from it. Investing in earplugs may seem a bit ridiculous but trust us, they are worth the money. Firstly, you will take much better care of them and secondly, they are far more comfortable than regular ear plugs. They also let sound in, which is a major bonus so mid-swim chats!

We Recommend: Northcore SurfShields Surfers Ear Plugs from Surfdock

5. Changing Mat

Sea Swimming 2021-Typhoon-Changing-Mat-Bag-1

Often overlooked, changing mats are a game changer, especially in winter. The cold underfoot while getting changed in winter can really affect your ability to warm up post-swim. They will also protect your feet from sand or rocks depending on your swimming location.

We Recommend: Typhoon Changing Mat from Portwest

6. Flask

Kombukka Etna Flask

Flasks filled with a hot drink are a must when you’re sea swimming in Ireland. They can keep your hot drinks hot for a very long time, ensuring that you’ve something to warm you up when you emerge from the cold water. If you want to start sea swimming we strongly recommend picking up one of these bad boys, especially for when you move on to longer swims in the bitter Irish waters.

We Recommend: Kambukka Flasks

7. Outsider’s Enamel Mugs

Outsider's Enamel Mug

The perfect mug to enjoy your hot cuppa tea after a cold swim. Lay down your changing mat, fill your mug and enjoy a beautiful sunset on the beach. The perfect way to end a perfect day.

We Recommend: Outsider’s Enamel Mug


By Killian Andersen

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