It’s the old wives’ tale that sees swimming rates drop every winter. Yet despite there being no evidence to verify the myth, a whopping 50 per cent of Australians still believe having wet hair in winter will increase their risk of getting a cold*.
What Kingswim Centre Manager has to say
Kingswim Centre Manager, Joanne Franklin says the results are interesting as this common yet false belief often leads parents to stop their children’s swimming lessons through winter.
“The idea that having wet hair in winter increases the chance of catching a cold has been around a long time, however, we were shocked to learn 50 per cent of people really believe it,” she says.
“Most winters see a drop in the rates of children in swimming lessons, a concern considering how detrimental skipping lessons in the winter months can be for a child’s ability and confidence come summer.
“When it comes to improving children’s swimming skills and safety around water, ongoing lessons really are key. We’d hate to think parents stop their children swimming in winter based on the false belief it could make them sick, when really, swimming can actually improve the immune system.”
GP Dr. Sam Hay busts the myth
General Practitioner Dr. Sam Hay says he’s been telling people for years that they needn’t worry about having wet hair in winter.
“Viruses don’t breed in our hair. So, if your hair gets wet, you won’t suddenly get sick,” he says.
“Colds and flus are more common in winter, but it’s not the weather or wet hair that’s the problem. Winter drives us indoors to the comforts of a warm and cosy space. Too many people huddled together means it’s easy for viruses to spread.
“People may be surprised to know that swimming through winter can improve a child’s immune system by keeping them fit and healthy, reducing their risk of catching a cold. So it’s time to stop fearing wet hair!”
Top benefits of swimming through winter
- Reduce the risk of colds – children who swim throughout winter have stronger immune systems and are less likely to catch colds and flu.
- Keep fit indoors – swimming is a wonderful way to remain fit and keep energy levels maintained indoors. Plus, it’s great for curing kids’ cabin fever on a rainy day.
- Repetition is key for long-term skill retention – months of summer lessons can ‘go to waste’ if stopped over winter. Maintenance and reinforcement is key to maintaining technique, stamina and confidence. This is particularly important for infant, toddler and pre-school aged children when long-term skill retention and muscle memory are starting to develop.
- Stay safe – accidents can happen at any time of the year in the water, so it’s important children understand how to handle emergencies and stay water confident year-round.
- Swimming makes you smarter – Swimming has been proven to assist in brain development and for school-aged children, is regarded as vital for the development of academic performance, as well as coordination, motor skills, balance and concentration.
Hacks for winter swimming
- Be prepared – the toughest part of swimming in winter is getting dry and changed afterwards. But it’s much easier with towel robes, loose-fitting clothing and ugg boots.
- Swimming caps – wet hair won’t make you sick but it can be annoying! A cap will keep hair dry during the lesson.
- Pack post-swim snacks – swimming can be hungry work! Bring some snacks for kids to munch on after swimming, even better if you can bring something warm in a thermos.
- No rashie suits or wetsuits – in the water wear simple bathing suits that don’t have too much fabric. Kingswim’s pools and centres are all heated and warm. When little ones are wearing bulkier swimming suits with lots of fabric, they often get colder during their lesson due to lots of wet fabric. It’s also harder to do a lot of movements in restricting swimming suits.
- Hair turbans – for little ones with longer hair, hair towel turbans are great to put on after swimming to help dry hair quickly. If you don’t have a towel turban, bring an extra towel for wrapping up wet hair.
*The independent survey was conducted nationally by Omnipoll between June 14-19, 2018 among 1,228 respondents aged 18 years and over.