Back in the Open Water!
Hi everyone, as Spring is just around the corner I imagine that there are quite a few people getting excited about getting back into the wetsuits and in the open water!
For those swimmers who’ve spent the winter months in the safety of the 29 degree swimming pool, how do you prepare for the upcoming season?
Check your location
For me – no matter how many times you’ve swam at a venue, you should always check the swim area for any changes, this could be simple things like temperature changes/spikes, water clarity or pond weed changes (urgh!)
Major changes to check could be current flow, entry/exit locations, fallen debris, buoy locations, safety equipment (if applicable) and many more!
Especially at the start of the season, if I had not been to a venue for a period of time, I’d definitely take the time to speak to the owners or safety crews, ask questions and find out what’s happened over the winter months. This not only allows you to learn about your environment, but helps further develop a rapport with the land owner / safety crews.
If you spend more time in the sea, make sure that you make yourself known to the local beach lifeguards if they’re on duty, go visit local lifeboat stations, get acquainted with local facilities, check tide times and conditions – ultimately make yourself as safe as possible!
Usually I spend my first session (maybe more) after the winter away from the joys of the cooler water just getting used to my surroundings.
Can I remember how to fit my wetsuit properly?
Have I remembered all of my equipment?
How will my body react after being away from it for a period of time?
What do I do in case of cold water shock?
These questions (along with many more) always come up when the season begins!
Simple answer is – take your time!
The first session doesn’t have to be a 2 hour 5k slog, it could just be a 15 minute paddle, getting used to different things; flooding your suit, checking goggles fit correctly, get used to your tow-float (if used), how it feels having gloves/socks on, or more importantly the temperature!
From a clothing point of view, I always make sure I take plenty of thin layers as it traps layers of air which helps with warming up after a swim, my bobble hat is always with me regardless of the conditions as we lose most of our heat through the head so try to stay as warm as possible. Many people look for swim locations where they can have a coffee or a bite to eat afterwards (nothing beats a bacon buttie so if ever you see me, I’ll not refuse one!), warm drinks are essential if you’re suffering from any effects of cold water shock, hot drinks are a definite no no. Your body needs to warm gradually, too hot and your body will not react well and may make you worse than you started!
I totally appreciate that there are swimmers who swim all year round, without wetsuits – you guys are an inspiration to open water swimming and I look to you guys for support with how you prepare yourselves for cold water swimming!
I’d love to hear how everyone acclimatises to the open water?
Hope to hear from you soon!
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