I read a post by someone the other day that said something to the effect of ‘it’s a really rough beach, all pebbles, and footwear is essential’. Which is odd, as I swim at that same beach a lot and whilst it is pebbles they are all smooth. When it comes to what is seen as necessary kit then some of it is highly personal and is about boosting self-confidence.
Thoughts at this time of year with the temperature falling turn inevitably to winter essentials. I have never felt the need for any sort of footwear irrespective of temperature, duration or conditions underfoot (though on that score I have cut my feet so many times I think they are now mostly past it).
I do sometimes wear gloves but that’s not about temperature it is because of a long standing problem from broken bones in my hand which from time to time comes back to haunt me and means something like picking up a coffee cup is quite painful (I keep straws handy just in case) and the repeated push of water on my hand can be very painful, the gloves just give support, though actually, as today, strapping my thumb to my forefinger with a hair band does just as well if not better.
I will swim on as the temperature drops, managing about 30 minutes at 7-8°C before reaching for the wetsuit, but around our bit of coast that is about where the temperature bottoms out. And I will continue to swim shorter times, much shorter times, without the wetsuit in the river which can get down to zero C.
Nevertheless it is personal preference but if you feel footwear and/or gloves and/or woolly hat and/or anything works for you then it works for you there is no universal right or wrong.