Make Time to Swim this Winter

Let’s be honest – swimming in the middle of the icy cold Wisconsin winter doesn’t always sound super appealing. Beyond the obvious lack of options (lakes are frozen a foot deep, outdoor pools are clearly a no-go til May), swimming in the winter brings its own unique challenges: icy hair, sticky skin trying to pull on long pants and long-sleeved shirts, dry skin, etc, etc, etc. But just because something is a bit trickier, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its benefits, and swimming is definitely one of those activities that can be done year-round. 

Read on to learn more about continuing to swim during these chilly winter months, and why it will reap its rewards come summer. 


  1. Swimming is amazing exercise. It can be trickier to get in as much physical fitness when sidewalks are icy, temps are below freezing and the sun sets at 5pm. Swimming helps build fitness year-round, preparing kids for a summer of activity – be it swim team, summer camp or sports. 
  2. Beyond the exercise, swimming helps you forget how cold it is outside. Picture yourself in a humid, hot pool instead of outside where the air hurts your face. It’s like a mini-vacation! 
  3. It helps kids maintain their swim skills. So many kids take summer swim lessons but opt out of year round swimming. This makes building on skills SO much more challenging. Each summer, kids start the summer extremely rusty, trying to rebuild confidence in the water, fix stroke positions and gain endurance. By staying in swim lessons year round, kids are able to leap into summer lessons and grow stronger as swimmers.


How do you find places to swim during the freezing winter months? There aren’t as many options as summertime, to be sure, but there are still ways to get into the pool! Continuing swim lessons is one easy, simple way to make regular pooltime a priority. Another option is to try a family swim / open swim slot at SwimWest. You’ll have the chance to hop in the pool, too, and enjoy some time in our warm water. Other options include: hotel pools (some allow day passes to their pools) or vacations to the beach. If all else fails, you can help your littlest swimmers keep up their confidence by letting them show you their skills in the bathtub! 🙂 


There are a few things that make swimming in the winter a little more comfortable. One thing that makes a big difference is to plan what you pack in your swim bag ahead of time. This avoids VERY cold walks to the car, or through hallways at a hotel. Here are some of my favorite things to pack in our swim bag during the winter:

  1. Bathrobes AND towels. We love to use a bathrobe right away, and a towel to dry off before getting dressed. The bathrobe helps keep the kiddos warm and absorbs a bit of water, too.
  2. Hair brush/dryer. Long hair can get SO dry and cold in the winter. We typically bring hair product and a brush and dry hair before we ever leave the locker room. This helps prevent the hair from freezing outside (yuck!) and maintain moisture in the cold months.
  3. Easy-on clothes. In the summer we can get away with a quick cover up or a flowy dress, which are both MUCH easier to throw on than leggings. In the winter we pack clothes that pull on easily (fleece sweatpants, for example) and leave the leggings at home.
  4. Hats, gloves, jackets! Hats are especially great after swimming in the winter months to keep those sweet heads warm.
  5. Lotion. My kids both get really dry skin in the winter, and the chlorine can make it worse. We lather up after showers to make sure their skin doesn’t get too dry after a day at the pool.