We are anxiously awaiting the release of Lewis Pugh‘s new book (21 Yaks and a Speedo) due to be out in print in May 2013. The book includes a number of surprises and educational opportunities relevant to open water swimmers. Among this treasure trove of content, Pugh explains how he performs anticipatory thermogenesis.

It is well documented through various tests that Tibetan monks can create heat through the power of their thoughts when they are exposed to cold. This is known as thermogenesis.

Thermogenesis is a result of the lengthy and intense meditation sessions that the monks do throughout their careers. This is not what Pugh does. What Pugh does is, frankly, even more impressive and is entirely pertinent to open water swimmers, triathletes and other marine sports enthusiasts who must perform in cold water.

While thermogenesis is the creation of heat, anticipatory thermogenesis is the creation of heat before an event. Professor Tim Noakes documented how Pugh’s core body temperature rises before he get into cold water – or anticipatory thermogenesis.

Anticipatory thermogenesis is the ability to mentally generate an increase in one’s core body temperature. The term was first described by Professor Noakes of the University of Cape Town when he recorded Pugh’s ability to raise his core body temperature by nearly 2°C in anticipation of entering the freezing water during his swims in Antarctica.

Pugh believes it is a Pavlovian Response to years of cold water swimming.

In Chapter 5 of his new book, Pugh reveals for the first time how he does it.

It is great reading.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association