Interesting comments around at the moment about the fact that the sea temperature has actually been warmer than it was at the start of July this year (12.1c said the Ballycotton gauge…hmmmm: working?). Even if it’s right, people are saying they feel very cold in and out of the water. It’s the air temp combined with the sea that’s the difference, of course. Spending an hour in the sea (or even 30 minutes) in July is very different to doing it in December, January etc.
Cork Harbour Weather – @CorkHarbourWX – had this on a tweet spotted by Bernard Lynch last week “The still air temp is +6C but the THSW temp (how it actually feels outside) is only +2-3C. Wrap up!”. Extensive research was then conducted (he Googled THSW) to find what it was:
THSW Index uses humidity and temperature to calculate an apparent temperature. In addition, THSW incorporates the heating effects of solar radiation and the cooling effects of wind (like wind chill) on our perception of temperature.
Why bother posting this? Just another reminder / warning to us all to think of all the factors when swimming in Winter. Tides, sea temperature, wind temperature etc. Cold always wins. We can go into the sea on a beautiful flat calm day in December and be tempted to go a bit further than we should.
One thing you’ll notice is that a Northerly wind makes Myrtleville nice and calm. Even quite strong Northerlies can still leave our favourite beach very swimmable. It’s also a very cold wind! It’s safer to be five or ten minutes from the beach when you feel cold, than to have gone over past the Dutchman when you realise that wind is freezing your elbows, your hands have clawed and it looks like a long way back. No rule says you have to go to the Dutchman. Fennell’s Bay is lovely this time of year!
So, look at the sea, check the tides, agree with a swim partner what you’re doing, cut it short if you feel cold – or before you feel cold – and always have your gear ready for a quick dry and change afterwards. Afterdrop can be painful and it’s worse if you dawdle getting dressed. Winter swimming is fantastic – a real buzz. Just be careful. Swim Safe.