What is The Chatter Challenge?
The Chatter Challenge is an annual winter open water swim challenge which runs from 1st November to the 31st March encompassing fun, friendship, community, raising money for charity and some superb free kit. Open water includes the sea, lakes, lochs, waterfalls, rivers, canals, and unheated lidos and equally may include an ice bath, cold shower or hose under certain circumstances.
You can either swim, socially swimble, dip, body board or play about in the water. The Chatter Tribe welcomes all abilities and thrives on smiles, kindness, encouragement, and support. There is no set distance to swim, or minimum time to spend in the water.
The options are:
- THE ORIGINAL - swimming or dipping in any open water in your swimsuit or shorts. You can wear neoprene gloves, socks and a hat.
- THE MIXED BAG - as per THE ORIGINAL but you can also do cold showers, ice baths or similar.
- ALL WETSUITS - swimming or dipping in any open water in a wetsuit.
- THE ULTIMATE - 365 days of swimming or dipping in any open water in your swimsuit or shorts - this one is a hardcore challenge and is at the request of Chatter Tribe members who wish to push themselves further.
A dip means submerging all or part of your body in cold water - it is entirely your call.
The Challenge is inclusive and Chatter aims to inspire and motivate you to push yourself and each other to dip over as many days as you can manage, during the winter season. The rules can be tweaked for disabilities or illnesses.
Warm up after your dip with chatter and giggles; hot drink in one hand and some cake in the other!
To keep a tally of your dips, you are asked to log each one on www.chatterchallenge.com via the Dip Log on ‘My Account’ which will the transfer automatically to the Chatterboard. If you complete any of the mini Challenges, then log those on the Dashboard too.
The Chatter community is built throughout the UK with tribe members posting photos and/or videos of your exploits via the daily motivational dipdate on the Facebook page. There will be regular posts on Instagram.
Just add cold water! For each of the four challenges, the rules are as follows:
THE ORIGINAL - Swimming or dipping in any open water in your swimsuit or shorts. You can wear neoprene gloves, socks and/or hat. If you like, you can wear a rash vest/leggings but be warned that it doesn't add any extra warmth!
THE MIXED BAG - as per THE ORIGINAL but you can also do cold showers, ice baths or similar on days that you can't make the open water.
ALL WETSUITS - swimming or dipping in any open water in a wetsuit.
THE ULTIMATE - 365 days of swimming or dipping in open water in your swimsuit or shorts. You can wear neoprene gloves, socks and hat, if you wish.We can adapt any of the rules to allow for disabilities or illnesses.
What do I get for my money?
Not only are you a member of this exclusive club and have access to all areas on the website, but you will also have daily motivational dipdates on Facebook for you to add your photos/videos to both enjoy and build our community with.
How about some fantastic Chatter branded kit?
Everyone who signs up to the Challenge in 202/23 will receive a Chatter Pack of goodies containing various items including a quality chunky branded and specially designed Pom Pom hat made from wool and recycled materials. ‘The Chatter Challenge 2022/23 will be embroidered on the front so there will be no doubt as to which crazy group you belong to!
In 2021/22, you also received a recycled fabric snood, a recycled plastic ice scraper, a mobile phone dry bag and more.
The 2022/23 goodies are recycled fabric snood, mobile phone dry bag and more. Everything is useful for winter dipping.
At the end of the Challenge, you will receive a pack containing your certificate of achievement and embroidered sew on badge.
What are the different award levels?
There are different award levels dependent upon how many dips you do. Only a logged dip will be counted towards your total on the Chatterboard so it is important to log in every time.
The ULTIMATE deserves a special prize for the determination and commitment to 365 days.
|Award level||Number of logged dips|
|Bronze award||1 - 39|
|Silver award||40 - 79|
|Gold award||80 - 119|
|Platinum award||120 – 150 |
|Pearl award (Leap Year only)||152|
What kit would be nice to have but is not essential?
- A warm, waterproof change robe (there are loads on the market) which would be big enough to camp out in when it is snowing! Most people use them as a massive coat.
- A hot water bottle – I shove mine inside my thermals to warm my core under the change robe whilst downing my hot drink.
- A changing mat or something similar, so your feet are not touching freezing concrete and cooling you down further as you get changed.
It is for absolutely anyone who is willing and daft enough to commit to hurling themselves safely into cold water during winter. All abilities are welcome, however, you should only swim within your own ability and knowledge. You can swim, swimble, dip, body board, float and/or jump about in the waves. If you are less able bodied, then dip within your limits.
After completing both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 Challenge, some of the Chatter Tribe decided that they were ready to swim an Ice Mile or the English Channel, such was the building of self-confidence during those five months. The Chatter Challenge is a great way to start or build upon your open water swim journey.
Are there limited places?
Yes. Demand for a place is high as the numbers are limited so please sign up early to avoid disappointment.
Places will be released on the 1st August each year, so if you would like to be contacted just before this date, please email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the yearly waiting list.
Can U18s take part in the Challenge?
The short answer – yes. The longer answer – no one under the age of 14 can take part and all under 18’s must always be accompanied and supervised by a responsible adult when dipping. The Young Person’s safety is paramount and they must understand their responsibilities.
Each participant and their parent/guardian must read, understand and agree to the T&Cs / Waiver and pay to become a member. The Young Person or their parent/guardian will then log their dips as per standard practice.
What are the other challenges, and do I have to do them?
There are 20 additional mini challenges. There is no requirement for you to do any of the additional challenges however we would love you to get as involved as much as possible - they are there to add a bit of daftness. There is a description of each on the ‘Challenges’ page and the dates are listed within the ‘Events’ page.
It is your mission to check them out and should you choose to get involved then we would love to see your photos on the Facebook daily dipdate!
You will then be able to log these dips at the same time as your daily dip via ‘My Account’.
If you double dip, only one will be counted towards your total per day unless you double dip on the Full Moon challenge day in which case you will be given two and this will show on the Chatterboard. So, you can gain an extra five dips throughout the challenge.
Every time you dip, it is your responsibility to visit the LOGIN icon which you will find on the home page of the website. Click on that to log your dip. You will be given the option of logging the additional challenges also so please tick all that apply.
Logging dips is entirely down to your honesty as there will not be any checks. There is no additional prize should you log one or 151 dips other than the relevant certificate will change.
Once completed, you can click on the link to the Chatter Challenge Facebook page. Facebook is where you can upload a photo or video of your exploits on the daily motivational ‘dipdate’ and is the place where we get to know our Tribe and build our community. You can be as silly, as serious, or as interactive as you like.
Can I make up a dip if I miss a day?
Yes, you can. On the Full Moon mini challenge days, you will get the opportunity to log two dips if you ‘double dip’ which equates to five additional dips over the course of the Challenge.
Chatter recommends that you do not dip on your own for safety reasons. If you can’t dip with a buddy, it is wise to have a spotter on land. You could always join another group of swimmers if you are on your own. It is also wise to let someone know where you are going and when you are likely to be back.
The Coastguard have erected signs around the coastline and each area has a specific code – please memorise that code, for example King Edwards Bay in Tynemouth is NTE 12, 13 and 14 dependant on where you are in the Bay. You may need this in case of emergency.
Always know where your nearest life belt and defibrillator are sited as you really want to be cool, calm and collected if someone is in difficulty in the water. Chatter was always told about the five P’s… and in case you didn’t know… PREPARATION PREVENTS P*SS POOR PERFORMANCE.
What if the weather conditions are awful?
This is a fun winter swim challenge so the weather can range from sunny, chilly, freezing, cloudy, cloudy with a bit of sun, raining, sleeting, windy and snowing and all are fun in their own way. You can dip in all weathers however must be mindful that the weather can affect your safety in different bodies of water so only you can make that call as to whether to swim or not. Do not dip beyond your level of knowledge or ability.
If we have another ‘Beast from the East’ type weather phenomena in your area or equivalent and it is clearly dangerous to dip, then to award yourself that day’s dip, be imaginative about your cold-water alternative until it is safe to get back in open water. This could be an ice bath, cold shower, or a hose pipe in the garden. You could roll around in the shallows too.
Remember, we want you to safely achieve your goals.
How do I recognise a rip?
Let’s talk about rips. There is a tremendous amount of advice online, so it is worth doing some research.
Essentially, when waves crash onto the beach, the water must go back out and this can create a rip which is a strong current running out from the beach. It is important to note that these can drag you out from the shallows and into deeper water.
Rip currents can either be obvious or difficult to spot, but can be identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface or deeper, darker coloured water; fewer breaking waves; rippled surface surrounded by smooth water and/or anything floating out to sea, or foamy, sandy water out beyond the waves.
If you are caught in a rip:
• Stay calm
• Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted
• If you can stand, wade don’t swim
• If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore
• Raise your hand and shout for help
• If you get tired float on your back.
• Consider using your tow float to rest on.
See the RNLI ‘Float to Live’ campaign here:
Are there any other safety tips?
Only enter the water if you feel safe to do so and in accordance with your knowledge and ability.
Everyone who enters open water should research the area that they are dipping; the tides, currents, effects of the current weather conditions to ensure that they are safe.
Always ensure that you research where you are going to get in and out of the water BEFORE you get in.
Be confident in your surroundings and know what you will do if you ever get into trouble.
Open water swimming is an extreme sport and can cause life-changing injuries or worse if you don't take your safety seriously. Your safety - your responsibility. ALWAYS.
Jumping through waves is fun but please also recognise that some waves you have to go under if it looks like it will crash on your head. ALWAYS watch the waves. Sometimes, it is best to stay in the shallows. Never take risks.
Dumping/plunging waves and shore break are waves that rise suddenly and dump their full weight in the same spot. They can be seriously unpleasant and cause injury. Watch out for them. In places where they break very close to the shore they are known as shore break.
Do not dive or jump into shallow water as you may cause yourself serious harm. Always check the water depth before jumping in otherwise you could cause yourself serious injury.
Can I dip after drinking alcohol?
I really doubt that anyone doing the Challenge will need this question answered but if anyone asks or if you see anyone dipping after consuming alcohol, the answer is always going to be a resounding ‘No. No and another No’. The combination of cold water and alcohol can be deadly.
Do you sell any branded items?
Yes, see the shop section on the website. There are both branded and unbranded items for sale on there and this will be added to as we grow.
You can swim in any safe open water such as the sea, lakes, lochs, rivers, pools, unheated lidos or waterfalls. Dependent upon where you go, always be mindful of tides, currents, debris, recent rainfall and so on, as changes can make open water unpredictable. Always swim within your ability and knowledge.
You may do alternatives if you feel that the conditions aren’t safe (see the FAQs regarding weather/water conditions).
If you go somewhere new, please do your research, and speak to any local open water swimming groups (there are plenty on social media who are always helpful) as to any local hazards that may impact upon your decision to swim.
Which charity is the Chatter Tribe sponsoring?
10% of the fee from the Challenge subscriptions will go to our chosen charities which may change each year. We aim to give more if we can.
In 2020/21, The Tribe raised £1457.00 for The Marine Conservation Society https://www.mcsuk.org/ and £200 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution https://rnli.org/ The entire fee went to charity.
In the 2021/22 winter season, we raised £400 split equally between two charities; the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) https://www.rnli.org/ and Sea Shepherd UK https://www.seashepherd.org.uk/ who are a direct-action marine conservation movement founded in 1977. Their mission is to defend, conserve and protect our oceans and marine wildlife by working in partnership with governments and law enforcement agencies.
Lots of the Tribe obtained their own sponsorship and raised money for their chosen charities separate to the Chatter Challenge. Please let us know if you would like us to advertise it.
How long does the Challenge last?
It is a five-month challenge covering the winter period. It starts on the 1st November and ends on the 31st March. This equates to 151 days however in a Leap Year, we are treated to an extra day. What a joy!
The ULTIMATE will start on 01/10/22 for 365 days.
What kit do I need to do this exciting Challenge?
Other than a sense of humour, you will need:
- Swimsuit/shorts (includes rash vest/leggings) unless of course you propose to swim in the buff.
- Neoprene socks/gloves/hat to keep your extremities warm. Some hardy folk can manage without them during winter however they are seriously a game-changer in the winter water.
- Wetsuit if you are doing the WETSUIT challenge.
- A towel or towelling change robe to quickly get dry after your dip.
- Warm clothes – it is key to get dry and into warm clothing as soon as you get out of the water. No dithering! Layering up items of clothing such as thermal top and leggings, gloves (eg ski gloves), scarf or thermal snood, thick woolly socks and waterproof boots should keep you nice and warm. The last of your worries will be underwear – trust me!
- A warm hat – The Chatter Challenge hat is perfect so stick it on whilst you are getting dry and wear it with pride.
- A drink for after you come out of the water to warm you up. A good quality flask/thermal bottle is worth its weight in gold! Many people have a post swim snack too.
Finally, a bag for any litter you find to dump in the nearest bin.
What safety equipment should I have?
It is recommended that you have:
1) A brightly coloured tow float which attaches to your waist via a lanyard and makes you more visible in the water. It is also wise to put your ‘In Case of Emergency’ (ICE) details on this either in permanent ink or use a tag. These can be purchased via the SHOP.
Some people who body board or jump about in the waves don’t use one and it is of course, your choice.
NB If you lose your tow float whilst swimming, you MUST immediately report it to the Coastguard to inform them that you are safe and avoid an unnecessary rescue launch.
2) A brightly coloured swim cap in case your tow float becomes detached from you. This is an extra safety reference point .
3) A waterproof light to either attach to your swimsuit or to your tow float if you are dipping in the dark. Dependent upon the type of tow float, you could also stick the light inside it (inside another sealed bag).
4) A mobile phone in a dry bag so that you can call for assistance if required – RNLI advise for you to take this into the water with you.
5) Safety whistle to attract the attention of the emergency services. The towfloats sold on www.chatterchallenge.com have an integrated safety whistle.
You will pay just one fee for the entire five-month challenge which is £45.00. This gives you full access to the website where you are able to log your dips which are then displayed on the Chatterboard.
Is this an organised event?
Given that members of the Chatter Tribe are situated in a variety of locations in the Northern Hemisphere, and will dip at different times, it is not an organised or supervised event. It is important that you understand that you are solely responsible for your own safety.
During registration, all participants must read and confirm that you have read, understood and agree to the Terms and Conditions and the Waiver, before you are able to take part.
That does sound a little dramatic, but all Tribe members must realise that this activity is not for the feint hearted and is entirely at your own risk. Chatter can’t supervise you during your dip.
Chatter thoroughly enjoys people saying that we are completely crazy for swimming in cold water. Perhaps we are mad, but we are always careful, safe and respect the water.
Can my dog take part in the Challenge?
Of course. There is no need to sign them up. We all love a dog photo!
Once you register, confirm that you agree to the Terms and Conditions / Waiver and pay for your participation in this Challenge, you are all ready to go.
NB if more than one person from the same family wishes to join the challenge, then a different email account will be required per person. A participant’s email address can not be used more than once.
Every time you dip between 1st November and 31st March, you are asked to go to the ‘My Account’ area and log your dip via the ‘Dip Log’. Click on the date and either YES/NO. Your Dip Count is displayed underneath. Underneath the ‘Dip Log’ you will be able to log your mini challenges on relevant dates too. You will be given a YES/NO option here too.
Logging dips is entirely down to your honesty.
The maximum dips that you will be awarded per day is one, apart from the five Full Moon days where you will be able to claim two dips (if you ‘double dip’). They will be recorded on the Chatterboard. You will be able to see your dip tally. The mini challenges you have completed will be displayed on the Challenges Board.
From the website, you will be able to click the link to the Chatter Challenge Facebook page to post photos and/or videos of your exploits on the daily motivational ‘dipdate’ and then comment and/or like each other’s. The more involved you get, the better and more fun the Challenge will be as the community side is built both in person and on social media. You can be as silly, as serious, or as interactive as you like.
Ten photos will be selected to go on the Instagram page each day.
If your social media name is different to your given name, please inform Chatter upon registration alternatively you can use that name as your Display Name on www.chatterchallenge.com.
What if I forget to log a dip?
Simply go back to the relevant date click on it on the calenday and log the dip by pressing Yes or No. Please keep an eye on your own tallies.
Do I need to tell you in advance what my goal will be?
You don’t need to tell us what your goal is unless you need to be kicked up the bum to achieve it as the Tribe will be cheering you on every single day anyway. Chatter will be delighted with you regardless of how often you manage to dip.
Many Chatterers do set themselves a personal goal to achieve a certain level and most far exceed their intended goal once they get into the Challenge, realising that they could do just that little bit more. Even the least competitive Chatterers show a competitive streak when they get involved in the community on social media.
There are numerous apps that you can download onto your mobile device and the list is not exhaustive. Chatter would recommends checking them whilst planning your dips for the coming week and before entering the water. Some of them include:
a) ‘Magic Seaweed’ (MSW) as this will let you know the tidal conditions in coastal areas and when it is high or low tide.
b) ‘Met Office’ as this will give you an idea of weather conditions
There may will be additional useful apps specific local to you such as Safer Seas (water quality).
What if the water conditions are potentially dangerous?
Remember this is a fun challenge where your safety is paramount. Chatter wants you to be safe and achieve your goals, so just like if the weather conditions are dangerous where you are, to award yourself that day’s dip, be imaginative about your cold-water alternative until it is safe to get back in open water. This could be an ice bath, cold shower, or a hose pipe in the garden.
Only you can be responsible for your own safety.
I’ve heard of ‘after drop’ but what is it?
After drop can happen to even the most accomplished open water swimmers. It is where your body temperature continues to drop even after you get out of the cold water and warmed due to cooler blood from your extremities then circulating around the rest of your body. Once you exit the water, your body continues to cool down and you can feel colder than you did whilst in the water! When in cold water, your body stops the circulation to your skin to concentrate on the warm blood in your core.
Your teeth may chatter, and your body may shiver; you can sometimes feel faint and rather unwell. You may even spill your coffee over yourself due to the shivering and your mates will, no doubt, take the micky (hopefully in a caring and concerned way whilst keeping a close eye on you).
Shivering is your body’s way of warming up naturally when you are cold so those lovely warm clothes (especially the Chatter hat), the warm waterproof change robe, hot water bottle and a hot drink will help warm you up.
To minimise the risk of after drop:
• Stand on a changing mat or foam pad to avoid losing more heat through your feet. Some winter swimmers take a thermos of warm water which they pour into a small tub or camping wash basin and stand in it to warm their feet after a dip.
• Dry yourself (or another person if they are unable to get ready themselves) quickly and remove all wet clothing.
• Get dressed immediately, starting with the top half of your body.
• Get dressed in layers such as thermals, wool jumpers, insulated jackets, warm hat and gloves, long waterproof change robes.
• Drink your hot drink as this will help to warm your body from the core.
• Have something sugary to eat as it will help to raise the body temperature (not suitable for hypothermic swimmers).
• Sit in a warm environment, for example, your car with the heaters on full.
• If you feel up to it then walk around to generate body heat.
• If you feel unwell, sit down somewhere warm.
• Have a WARM bath or shower NOT hot as this may make you feel faint.
If you research this on the internet, you will see many views saying that it is unsafe and just as many saying that it is safe, but that you risk getting cramp. Some say leave it half an hour or an hour after eating and others say don’t eat before swimming at all.
Ultimately, you make the decision based on your knowledge of what you have eaten and how far you intend to swim.
It probably doesn’t make sense to swim having eaten, for example, a 20-inch pizza or full roast dinner – you may sink if nothing else! Save the cake for afterwards.
What are the core ethics of the Chatter Challenge brand?
Inclusivity, fun, community, friendship, eco-friendly, recycled, sustainable, ethical, and re-useable. I think that covers it!
Have you any photos, videos or podcasts?
In the Gallery section, you will find photos from different members of the Chatter Tribe.
If you fancy checking out a couple of videos, then please see below:
Here is the link to the BBC programme We Are England 'Cold Swim' which was aired in January 2021 featuring many of the tribe. We have now embedded this into the website on the front page.
Day 100 of the Chatter Challenge in the sleet and hail – why were we laughing hysterically?
Chatter Challenge Finale 2020/21
This is a link to a Podcast that Jacqui (Founder) did with Karen from The Creative Chilli during the 2020/21 Chatter Challenge.
you have any other questions, then please contact Chatter via the
contact us form or via email at email@example.com.