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Outdoor swimming

Hi! Any experiences? I am still recovering from my first (and hopefully last) emergency level asthma attack. I am shortly off to Sweden, and there I hope to swim, in the sea, if the weather allows it this time ( it can vary enormously). But it is likely to be cool. I far prefer 'wild' swimming to pools, though I am at my age no longer so brave with low temperatures as I once was. Has anyone ever had the experience of that sort of chill having an adverse effect on asthma? Obviously there are precautions I can take.

6 Replies

I always struggle when getting into cold water. I can feel my chest tightening and breathing gets harder, especially as it reaches my stomach area (I'm much too big a wuss to dive in nowadays). Many years ago I dived into a fjord in Norway & could hardly breathe for about 5 minutes.

Usually though, once I'm in & moving around the breathlessness passes.


I thought as much. I have a wetsuit, which should help, and a cautious, gradual, dipping. Thank you.


A few years ago we had the opportunity to go swimming with dolphins whilst in New Zealand. My husband did go - I would have liked to, but the activity came with a warning for people with conditions such as asthma: basically it wasn't recommended because of water temperature (cold). This was off the east coast of the South Island (so the Pacific, and a deep area of it, as opposed to the Baltic Sea which is relatively shallow by comparison) but wet suits were compulsory for anyone taking part. So even with a wet suit it was not recommended if you were asthmatic.

Enjoy your holiday - I've been to Sweden a few times and have always loved it. But do be careful with the swimming.


I will. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but my heart kind of breaks those summers I can't swim outdoors. The place we are at vary a lot in temperature, and it is all beach based, not far or deep. A couple of years ago the water there was up to 25c, but last year it barely did 13c. I would not swim at 13. Not for me. But 25.....though that is rare. I have no need to 'throw' myself into the water, I can take as long as I like to gradually acclamatise. And I have a wet suit. And I can change my mind if to the knees is too much. With care, and warm enough temperatures for my comfort, I think I can manage it.


I'm an open water swimmer, a couple of years ago I trained up to marathon swims with 2 miles 4 days a week and up to 10k 2days a week. Sadly a series of ill health injuries and surgeries mean that I am still struggling to get back in the game. I find that the cold really can make an enormous difference and though some in my club swim in the lake all year round by putting thermal rash vests on under their wetsuits and wearing diving hoods I have to retreat to the pool as winter closes in. Acclimatisation is really important as you know take it slow and blow bubbles till you get to a point where your face no longer hurts if it's cold. Haha! Take a swim buddy if you can who can help you if you get in trouble. I always swim with a dry bag containing my inhaler and a very cheap pay as you go mobile phone stuffed down the front of my wetsuit. That way I can turn on my back and use the inhaler if I need to and the phone allows me to ring an ambulance if needs be as soon as I get to dry land without having to get back the boat house first. I also leave my nebuliser readily available in the boathouse so that someone could fetch it while waiting for an ambulance if needed, inhalers can normally keep me going for a little bit in the short term and I daren't risk it getting water damaged. If I'm having an exacerbation or have any reason to believe I may have an attack I don't go in, it isn't worth the risk. Enjoy your hols and stay safe.

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You seem to have an interest that is great for you! And you sound vy good at IT, but I don't have those ambitions. I use the term 'wild swimming' as I understood it when I first heard it, only that you swim in a lake, river or sea rather than a pool. It is how I was brought up, as ere were no pools when I was young. Not where I grew up.

For me swimming is highly sensual. To feel water against my skin, in a beautiful setting, with a gentle sun on my back, see light glittering on water, and hear the noises associated. I love snorkelling! To see how creatures live under water, to see what grows there, the colour of rocks under water. So though I do swim for me it is a very gentle affair. (And the good thing about swimming outdoors is that it can so easily give enough space for both types of swimming without it being crowded, unlike swimming pools!) so, really all I intend, provided the water warms up enough, is to swim/snorkel/paddle/float literally just off the beach where we stay. No more than 20 meters of so out, and not likely for very long. So, these discussions here have been useful, it has made me think through what I need to think about until I find out how much of an issue this is for me, and at what temperature.

In some ways I envy you your type of passion! And I do hope you can get back to it again! It is clearly important.

And thank you for your response.

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