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Drifting into unconsciousness: Jason Zirganos and the mystery of undetected hypothermia
  1. Mike Tipton
  1. Correspondence to Professor Mike Tipton, Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 2UP, UK; michael.tipton{at}

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Swimming authorities must enforce minimum temperature rules in open water swimming because some open water swimmers—particularly those who are well acclimatised to cold—are unable to judge how cold they are. This potential problem was confirmed in the study of Saycell et al in this issue of British Journal of Sports Medicine.1

Cold habituation from repeated exposure to cold water can produce a ‘hypothermic’ adaptation to cold in which the acclimated individuals lose their perceptual and physiological responses to cooling. They do not shiver as much and paradoxically feel more comfortable as their deep body temperature falls. This was clearly demonstrated in the classic studies of Channel swimmers published in …

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