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Icebreaker Cold-Water Challenge

Ready to face the freeze? Join a swim near you, or do your own challenge wherever you are! Icebreaker is the cold-water challenge that helps end homelessness.

Boost your cold-water knowledge

Please read our cold-water tips and safety guidance before participating in the Crisis Icebreaker.

Please read our cold-water tips and safety guidance before participating in the Crisis Icebreaker.

General health and safety advice for cold-water swimming

  • Consult your GP before getting into cold water if you are pregnant, suffer from heart disease or lung conditions, have asthma, or any other medical conditions that might be affected by exposure to cold water.
  • Read the official tips from The Outdoor Swimming Society.
  • Please wear a swim cap during your challenge to help retain body heat. Crisis will provide Crisis branded swim caps to all participants.
  • Fancy dress is optional, but if you do wear fancy dress, please make sure that it does not affect your ability to swim safely.
  • Consider reading the government guidelines on living with COVID.
  • Please do not take part in the Crisis Icebreaker if you have any coronavirus symptoms listed on the NHS website. You could always take part in the Icebreaker at a later date.
  • Before you take part, consult your GP if you have any underlying health conditions that make you more vulnerable to coronavirus. If you are part of the clinically vulnerable or extremely vulnerable category, please follow the government guidance.

Cold-water tips:

  • Acclimatise to the cold; get in gradually and do not jump into cold water.
  • Swim gently at first, allowing time to overcome the shock/shallow breathing reaction to the cold.
  • Warm up gradually after getting out of the water. Use lots of layers, and wear clothes without complicated fastenings
  • Don't have a shower straight away; wrap up after the swim and keep moving to warm up.
  • Dry yourself off (pat, don’t rub), add lots of warm layers, and have a hot drink. Don’t drive until you feel well.
  • Seek help immediately if you feel very cold, nauseous, disorientated, dizzy or faint.


Safety advice for DIY Icebreaker

  • How to have a safe swim - read Beyond Swim's top tips
  • Please don't try this alone; make sure someone is with you who will be able to help you if you get into trouble.
  • Take your mobile phone and make sure someone knows where you're going.
  • Be safe and check local advice when choosing where to swim. You are responsible for choosing a safe location, and assessing your own ability.
  • If swimming in open water, go with someone experienced, wear brightly coloured clothes that are easy to see. Bear in mind that boats and other vehicles may be using the same water as you.
  • Read the safety advice from the RNLI website
  • If you are doing your challenge at home and are under 18, you must be under the supervision of an adult.
  • Please check your local conditions, tides and RNLI reports before your challenge to ensure your area is safe for swimming.

Useful links:

Open Water Swimming Society

A temperature guide
“After drop”: a guide to warming up
How to acclimatise to cold water
Festive dos and don’ts


Know the risks

Prefer to stay warm and dry?

There's lots of other ways you can support Crisis and help end homelessness this winter.

Fundraising for Crisis at Christmas is a brilliant way to bring friends, loved ones and people within your community together. We’ve got plenty of Christmas fundraising ideas to get you started. 

Fundraise this Christmas


If you need some inspiration, check out out our A-Z of fundraising ideas to get you started. 


Fundraising Ideas

Whether you're a new runner, want to beat a PB or are looking for your next challenge, join Team Crisis and run to end homelessness. 

Join an event

From our Art from Crisis subscription offer, to giving while you shop, to making a donation in your will, there are so many ways you can contribute to ending homelessness.

Explore other ways to give to Crisis

Crisis at Christmas

Every year Crisis at Christmas opens its doors to thousands of people experiencing homelessness. You can donate directly to the Crisis at Christmas appeal and help someone start a life beyond homelessness