The joys of open water swimming
What a sense of freedom you get from swimming in the sea. I love embracing open-water swims in the sea, lakes and rivers where I can battle all manner of challenges from currents to swells. Of course, you’ll have to modify your strokes to help slice through the water while using less energy.
You’ll also need to prepare yourself mentally to deal with the specific hurdles open water swimming bring. In fact, I’d always recommend you have a swim buddy with you in the early days as reinsurance when you are swimming out of your depth or comfort zone.
There are some things you need to look out when in the sea. For a start, hypothermia can be a risk. And the rule is simple, if you start feeling cold, get out of the water as soon as you can.
In chilly waters, as we have in my home country Sweden, it can be a good idea to wear a wet-suit of some kind and a swimming hat (you lose a lot of body heat through your head, so some open water swimmers use two caps to create a thermal zone). Wet-suits can chaff, so my tip is to apply some Vaseline to those areas where chaffing is liable to occur.
Another useful hint is not to forget to apply a waterproof sunscreen on your neck and shoulders, and even the backs of your legs. And stay well hydrated, drink fresh water regularly (Bluewater's water purifiers deliver water as pure as nature intended), especially if the weather is warm.
Then there are the unexpected physical challenges, such as being stung by a jellyfish (always wear goggles to protect your eyes against a sting as well as salty water) or currents and wind. Finally, remember our oceans are more polluted than ever nowadays, and there is a greater risk of stomach illnesses or ear infections when swimming in coastal waters due to sewage and farm run-offs.
At a busy beach, it’s always a good idea to check sea conditions such as tide times with a lifeguard. Also, keep an eye on the flags and buoys that have been placed for the safety of swimmers, getting hit by a fast-moving speedboat can be deadly.
Finally, though, have fun. Go on, dive into that tantalizing lake or azure blue sea. I enjoy it, and I’m sure you will too, especially if you take the simple precautions outlined above.