Wim Hof Method: what it is and how it can help your swimming

Heard of the Wim Hof Method but don't know what it is? John Wood explains how this breathing method can help with the cold and stress of open-water swimming


The Wim Hof method is a means of learning to control the involuntary nervous system and improve energy and awareness, by employing the practice of breathing exercises and graduated exposure to cold temperatures.


Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures, suggested that his breathing method helped lower the primal desire to run from pain and fear – and from the cold. It’s very much a meditative state of being.

There are two main areas of focus to Mr Hof’s methods, the first of which is the cold. Spending time in the cold has considerable potential benefits if done correctly. Secondly comes the breathing; a more mindful, deeper, slower and controlled breathing, according to Mr Hof, heightens blood oxygenation and in turn reduces stress levels.


The Wim Hof method is designed for acclimating and spending time in cold water. So whether you fancy swimming throughout the winter in open water, or you’re someone who struggles getting in the lake in May, it may be something that you consider to help improve your awareness and comfort.