Is there anything that can make swimming in New England beaches truly comfortable?

Here is the bottom line. I LOVE the ocean but only if I can swim in it but I HATE cold water. I know that from a lifetime of experience. It isn’t that I haven’t swam in cold water many times. I have but it really just generally pisses me off and that is never going to change. Even the ocean in Hawaii is a little cold for my taste. Give me the Gulf Coast of Florida or the Caribbean in July and I will be the happiest person there. You get the idea.

The problem is that I live fairly close to the New England coast and work even closer to it. It might as well be Wal-Mart parking lot as far as I am concerned though because I don’t like the beaches themselves, only swimming and only when I can be comfortable in water for extended periods of time. It seems like a waste and a problem in search of a solution.

Is there anything I can wear to make swimming in the Atlantic Ocean comfortable at least part of the year and not end up feeling like I just got rescued from the Titanic as a 3rd class passenger? There are wetsuits available for reasonable prices but I have never worn one. Do they work that well? If so, what type do you need for swimming in say, 65F water? Would a hat and booties help too. I don’t care what it looks as long as I can stay warm not pissed off at the cold water.

You might try this. Other than that I got nothin’. I live near the Oregon coast and feel your pain. The moment I touch the water at the Oregon coast I get that cold water ache starting up my limbs. Like you, I found Hawaii a little too cold. I can swim off the Yucatan though for a half hour or so.

Wetsuits work but the initial plunge is still pretty chilly. They work by trapping water next to your skin and keeping it warm from body heat. That takes a couple seconds. Booties, hoods, gloves all help. Google Northwest River Supply. They sell whitewater rafting-kayaking gear and have a lot of stuff.

You go back in time, be born there and start swimming in the ocean from infancy, then you mock people who complain about how cold in it as soft. Other than that, if you swim in the summer when the air temp is warm (and why you’d swim in the not-summer I have no idea), you just get through the first couple of minutes or so, and once you’re in, it’s really not all that bad.

The thing is that I have done that and the only thing I got out of it was bitterness about life and the futility of man against nature. I am trying to shoot for something better than “really not all that bad.” That is the same phrase I used to describe my colonoscopy without sedation. I am not a native New Englander so I don’t have the same life philosophy and views about their natural resources that many of them do. I just want to go swimming in the ocean around here and actually enjoy it.

Geez, you’re never going to be a real New Englander with this attitude, Shagnasty.

Get the wetsuit, one for cold water, 5mm to 7mm of neopreme with booties, hood &
gloves. You’ll probably want to use fins as the booties seem to make your kicks under powered.
I grew up just north of Boston and swam year round with this set up. As 10 to 12 year
olds we thought it was great when the harbor partially froze over and we could play seals swimming up onto the floating ice pancakes.
To avoid the initial shock on entering the frigid water and waiting for the suit to fill up,
save a good pee and let it go in the suit just as you enter the water. Every cold water diver that I know does this.

I’ll take cold water to sharks and box jellyfishes anytime.

Have you tried swimming at beaches south of the Cape? I find the water to be noticeably warmer in RI & CT.

My mum was a member of the Chicago Polar Bear Club: they’d plunge into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day. Now that’s cold!

Something that helps a little in cold water (given that I’m in San Diego, “cold” only means 65 degrees F.) is to be energetic. Splash and kick and jump. Body-surf. Get into the shallows and run, then go back out deep. Keep moving. Your body will generate heat, and you’ll be more comfy.

+1 on a wetsuit.

Instead of pissing on yourself, however, you can also bring some hot water from home in an insulated container. Just pour it down the neck of your wetsuit before you go out.

A wet suit is about the only thing that’s going to help. I can’t stand to swim in water that cold, it zaps my energy right away. Hell even low 70s does that after a while. A nice wet suit will really help, along with a swim cap or ear plugs as well. I’ve never used booties, but I’m sure those would help as well.

On the plus side you’ll not have to worry about treading water, you’ll float all day long if you want.

True dat. Try July or August on Block Island. It’s like the Yankee Carribbean.

It’s also warmer on the southern part of the Cape than it is on the north or on any of the National Seashore beaches.

Last I checked Great Whites love cold water.

I just watched Al Gore on CSPAN giving a speech (looks like superman is graying)

he says if you just hang in there another 5 years or so, after the polar caps melt and the cold water run-off ceases, it will be just like Key West in Maine.

It’s simple.

You sun on the beach, wade, throw things for your Labrador to retrieve, then go out for fried clams.

Who needs to swim in the ocean?

Wetsuits are a lot of a pain, imo, esp. thick ones that are difficult to get on and feel clumsy on land. Once in the water, the mobility issues seems to go away and they keep you much warmer. The tighter the wetsuit the better (as long as you can breathe, and not cut off circulation), because you want to minimise water movement in and out.

It varies a lot how cold people get, but I think a 5mm wetsuit should keep you plenty warm in 65 degree water, cos I’d scuba dive in that, and you lose less heat swimming than scuba diving (and I’m a cold water wuss). Add a hood if you are cold, or try a 3mm if you want (easier to put on and less restrictive), and then add the hood. Boots help too.

Well Shagnasty I’m with you. The Southern Ocean with glorious miles of sandy beaches is 10 mins from my door…and I’ve ventured into the water only a handful of times. At 46 degrees south you appreciate where all that water comes from right? Antarctica. Just as yours comes from the North Pole.

I’ve finally concluded that some people are less susceptible to the shock of entering cold water. My wife dives in without hesitation. It really doesn’t bother her.

Wetsuits work fine. You’ll only need a lightweight one to make 65F water feel fine: a 2/3mm thick one will restrict your movement much less than a thicker one. You’d probably be fine with a “shorty” too.

65-66F is about as warm as the water ever gets here in the UK - if it gets to, say, 63F I will actually go in without a wetsuit, but below that I’m zipping up! I only have a summer-weight wetsuit, but it keeps me plenty warm enough for an hour or so in water down to about 55F.

The cold shock is actually not bad, and I say that as a real wimp when it comes to cold water (my wife mocks me because she happily swims in 55F water with no wetsuit :slight_smile: ). The only bad bit is the first time the water goes down the neck, but it passes quickly.

Edit: reading some of the above replies, 5-7mm is major overkill unless you are planning to use it in winter/spring. 2/3mm will be fine.