Cold Water Immersion Mornington Peninsula Victoria

The Simple Answer to Becoming Warm Quickly After a Cold Water Immersion

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As a professional freediving instructor and breathwork coach, I find there’s plenty to be excited and interested about when it comes to cold water immersion in the sea, plunge pools, bathing in icy river streams and the rejuvenating feelings that are so effervescent after a cold water wild swim.

What do you do to get warm?

But something that doesn’t get much talked about is, well, what do you do once you’re out of the cold water? How do you recover after a cold water immersion? And how do you warm up quickly after a cold plunge?

Cold Water Immersion Swim Parka Waterproof Poncho Sorrento Mornington Peninsula Victoria
Swim Parka Waterproof Poncho Port Phillip Bay Sorrento Mornington Peninsula Victoria

It’s an important point because your body temperature continues to drop after you leave the water, so it’s best if you can offset this intense feeling and recover your body’s warmth safely and comfortably.


If you don’t act swiftly, prolonging the painful cold feeling can eat into the positivity of your training effect, because rather than remembering the joy and energy of the immersion, you tend to recall and associate the feelings at the end of the session, which were being painfully cold and generally feeling dreary and sad. This might eventuate in less motivation to go back and keep up the good work you’ve been doing with regular cold immersions.

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It takes time to warm up

After your cold water immersion, it can take anywhere between 10 – 45 minutes for your body to warm up again, so by having the right kind of warming effect, you will not only reduce this really cold and uncomfortable phase of the cold water therapy, but make the time to recover shorter.

So what are some of the ways people talk about?

Is getting into a hot shower as quickly as possible the way? Pouring warm water over yourself? Sitting on heated seats in the car (one of life’s modern automobile luxuries!)?

But getting warm can be really simple

For me, it’s become really simple. I throw on a Fluffy! What’s a Fluffy you ask?

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What’s a Fluffy?

A Fluffy is a well-designed swim parka that is warm, long, wind-proof, has big pockets, a cosy hood, big easy zip-pulls and has this wool-like fleece plushily lining the inside – hence, the Fluffy.

I adore the positive benefits that cold water immersion brings. The peace, the calm, the rejuvenation, and then afterwards, that immense natural inner energy that wells up as you transition from the cold state to the warm state.

The persistent problem though is, even if the dip was brief, depending on how long you’ve been in the cold water for, or just how cold a temperature it was, the period of getting your body back to regular temperature is the time we all detest the most. Sometimes it’s even harsher than the initial immersion itself.

Effects of After Drop – even colder

This period is what some people refer to as the “after-drop”, which is the continuing decline of your body temperature after you get out of the water.

It comes as a result of the changes the mammalian dive response (MDR) causes in our bodies when we immerse in water. The MDR is what aids our feelings of relaxation and reduces our stress and anxiety as the heart rate naturally slows as we immerse in water.

Another part of the MDR that happens due to the cold water response, is what we call peripheral vasoconstriction, and the effect is that when you’re in the water, the blood flow to your extremities (arms and legs) is reduced, so your regular circulation of warm blood to the extremities is less and the extremities then become colder.

This means when you get out of the water, the colder blood from your limbs and skin begins again to circulate with the warmer blood that is within your core. As the warm blood begins to circulate to the extremities again, it’s cooled by those cold limbs and skin and has to keep circulating to get back to regular temperature. This is why we often shiver and strangely feel colder, even though we’re out of the water.

Therefore even though you expect to feel warmer when you get out, what happens is that you feel an additional sense of being really, really cold straight after you finish the cold water immersion, rather than the peak of your cold feelings being when immersed in the cold water.

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The Secret to getting warm quickly

So the secret to getting your core body as warm as possible, and the method those in the know use, is to make sure your core upper body gets warm at the earliest possible moment when you leave the cold water. So, how do you do that?

Now, I’ve put this to the test over years of cold immersions in the southern end of Australia, in the cool temperate waters of the Southern Ocean that arrive at the Mornington Peninsula, swirling all the way from Antarctica.

In my favourite Trevally boardshorts, I float, dip, swim, snorkel and freedive all year round in sea temperatures as low as 9c in Victoria, with outdoor ambient temperatures sometimes as low as the 5-6c range. I’ve even immersed in Australian and European Alps mountain rivers sending their icy snow-melt waters to freeze my toes.

In the past I tried wrapping myself in towels, putting thermo-fleece outdoor jackets on with fleece lined tracksuit pants, racing home to a hot shower, shivering in the car on the heated seats, layering up in activewear until I look like the entire of last year’s sale catalogue all at once. None of it really made a serious difference or was convenient and easy.


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I simply got out of the water and put on the Fluffy.

It’s been an absolute game changer for me, and for all those wild swimmers, freedivers, snorkellers, spearfisherman, scuba divers, underwater photographers, surfers and cold water-ites that have stopped me and asked what the Fluffy was when they saw me after a cold water dip. They now have their own Fluffy swim parka jacket.

So what should you look for in a fluffy, aka fleece-lined swim parka, waterproof surf poncho, or dry robe swim change robe?

Things to look for

The things I now look for are:


It has to be warm, really warm and the inner lining needs to be a type of poly based fleece, not cotton. The poly based lining is better because you can shake the salt water droplets off easily before hanging to dry. Cotton is good for fresh water, but the salt water doesn’t dry off very well


It has to cover almost all of me, because all of me is probably shivering and very cold by the time I emerge. The neck should rise high and the hood should be fairly close fitting and have a draw string to close it around you as well


The slim fit of the jacket or parka that contours closely to your body keeps that beautiful warm fluffy fleece closer to your skin so the fleece’s excellent thermal protection and retention then stays close to you. A big roomy jacket will breathe too much and you’ll lose heat through movement and venting rather than it doing its job keeping you warm and warmer


The front zipper has to be two-way, and should only be around 2/3 or ¾ of the length of the jacket. If it’s full length all the way from the neck to the bottom hem that sits near your shins or ankles, you won’t be walking anywhere easily. By having the zipper start around knees/thigh, with the two-way zipper you can actually zip it together then adjust the height as needed for comfort. Zippers should have extra pull tabs on them too, that way your cold fingers/hands can actually find and use the zip pull


When you’re super cold and fingers are a bit hopelessly dysfunctional, by having the larger opening into the sleeve (bigger armpit), you more easily thread your arms into the sleeves. It’s especially helpful for gammy old swimming shoulders and worn rotator cuffs that don’t work so well anymore either as you don’t need to raise your arms so high to thread your hands into the sleeves


With nice long sleeves that go past your wrists, the next best bit is having a Velcro tab that tightens the cuff around your hand and wrist, or there’s a thumb loop you can loop the end of the cuff upon so that the sleeve stays well down around your hand. In this way you can also hold a warm mug of coffee without the hazard of burning your skin because the sleeve is long enough to be a layer between your hands and the coffee


As you walk away from the cold water in your big fluffy jacket, you’re going to want to jam your hands in there to warm them up too. Plus your car key, phone and coffee VIP card is then in easy reach with fingers that work! And if you’re really well prepared – you’ll have your hand warmers in there ready to go too!


A wind proof outer is essential, mostly because cold water immersion happens in places that are almost always exposed to the elements outdoors. The easiest thing to remove first is wind chill, and a good wind proof outer layer is ideal. A water resistant outer is a benefit if you’re wearing the swim parka in the car with your wet swimwear or wetsuit on underneath. In this way, the wetness shouldn’t seep through to your car seats, because who wants wet car seats? If you choose a fully water proof outer, remember this will probably breath less and be a stiffer material, but better resistant to rain and inclement conditions. If the outer is a softer texture, it will most likely be less water resistant, but will be more comfortable.

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Cold Water Immersion Swim Parka Waterproof Poncho Sorrento Mornington Peninsula Victoria

Alternative Swim Parka Change Robe

If the need to get changed straight after your cold immersion is your priority, then you might prefer the change robe style of swim parka. These are similar to above swim parkas but do not have a slim fit. They are much more bulky and larger relative in size as they are designed to have heaps more room inside the parka for you to be able to move and change clothes with it draped on.

I first discovered the Original Dry Robe change robe as my initial choice for a fluffy. The Dry Robe is a purpose designed big bell-shaped swim robe designed by Gideon Bright, a UK based surfer, that launched in 2010.

Well, they were initially conceived as a way to get changed outdoors from the wet wetsuit, whilst wearing the change robe. This avoided the wet towel, the wind, and more importantly, the cold getting in. So with the DryRobe over you, you can actually change all your wet gear underneath into dry clothes with the DryRobe staying on the whole time.

It works pretty well because the design has massive open underarms allowing you to bring and fold your elbows and all that jazz without getting tangled in the arms of the robe, nor tangled in the wet gear, nor the arms of your fresh clothing you’re putting on. Remember, we’re pretty much freezing by this point so the fine motor skills are not working so well!

Gideon created an awesome jacket and one that has been the go-to of many freedivers, and famous under ice swimmers, such as Ice Diver, Johanna Nordblad. It’s a very high quality jacket, made with a protective wind and water proof outer layer, big fluffy pockets, an inside big pocket for your smartphone and a two-way zipper. The inside is lined in sherpa fleece which is thick and warm. The Velcro tabs on the sleeve cuffs also do a nice job of trapping the heat in.

Here’s the link to the original Dry Robe.

And a few non-original similar styles available:

Hiturbo Waterproof Swim Parka

Akida Change Robe Swim Parka

Oksun Waterproof Surf Poncho Warm Coat

Dry Robe Swim Parka Change Robe Cold Water Immersion Sorrento Mornington Peninsula Victoria

Choose To Buy From These Swim Parka Change Robe Options:

Cold Water Immersion Swim Parka Waterproof Poncho Sorrento Mornington Peninsula Victoria

The Best Swim Parka Option For You

Depending where you live, if you’re within 10-15 minutes of home or where you’re staying, the best option will be a swim parka, because you can just throw it on straight away and then make your way back to have a warm shower and get changed. Though, in saying that, I do know people who have driven 1.5hrs in their swim parka to go home because they couldn’t be bothered taking their wetsuit off!

If you’re a long distance from home or the place you’re staying, then the traditional Dry Robe swim change robe is probably the better option, particularly if like where I live, the summer only lasts about 6-8 weeks, so the swim parka becomes pretty much your all year round necessity.

So as a recap, what do you do after cold water immersion? Here’s what to do:

What To Do After Cold Water Immersion

  1. Enjoy your cold water immersion
  2. Exit the water before getting much too cold
  3. Towel off briefly and immediately cover yourself with your fluffy jacket
  4. Remove your wet bathing suit (boarshorts / bikini)
  5. Add a super warm beanie to your head
  6. Add dry layers of clothing (I add a thermal zip top)
  7. Shove your hands in your deep fluffy pockets
  8. Shelter from the wind and elements
  9. Enjoy a warm drink from your thermal cup 
  10. Rejoice with how warm you are already feeling and share the good vibes with your buddies

Pool Swimmers Best Option

For the pool swimmers who are never likely to venture out beyond the swimming pool and only travel between home and the pool, I’d highly recommend investing in an Aquadash Swim Parka. These really are the original and best design, formerly known as the Great Aussie Swim Parka.

Founded and designed by Cindy, these nice long, slim fitting and cotton lined swim parkas are the best for kids and adults because you can put it on as soon as you step out of the pool to get warm and sort of dry.

The idea is that rather than having to change at the pool, you pop the jacket on, the cotton lining soaks up the water on your skin, and the outer lining, which is a very nice and smooth and comfortable, is designed fully with the intention of keeping your seats dry. No more wet towels wrapped around bums getting the seats soaked, these really well designed swim parkas are the pick of the crop. They’re even made from sustainable fabrics these days too.

I wouldn’t go for anything else, the Aquadash Swim Parkas are the best. I always use mine when I’m teaching freediving and mermaiding at the pool, it’s just that good.

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Other Items to Help You Enjoy Cold Water Immersion

There are some other bits and pieces that also help me to stay joyous as I frolic in the sea, and I usually take most of these with me, in addition to my fluffy swim parka.

During the cold water swim or immersion:

After the cold plunge and to warm up:

Thanks for reading this post and I hope your next cold water immersion is even more comfortable!

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