Taking the plunge for your first open water swim

Open water swimmingDeciding to take part in your first open water swim is a very exciting moment and opens up a whole new world of swimming opportunities.  But before you start, there are certain preparations you will need to make to ensure you swim is enjoyable and satisfactory.

The first thing you need to think about the is where you are going to do your first swim.  You must ensure that you pick a safe open swim location to avoid putting yourself into any danger. Generally, open water swimming can take place in selected rivers or lakes and in the sea.  Each option will give you a different experience but also come with different considerations before actually diving in.

First Open Swim

For you first open swim, the safest option is to find a lake where open water swimming is managed by a local group.  To find a location that is safe and where people swim regularly, check out this link for locations in South Wales and the Brecon Beacons.

When you find a suitable group, contact them and ask for full details of the location and how it’s managed.   When you get to the location, make sure that the location features marker buoys, details of water temperatures and safety staff.

You should also consider doing your first open swim with a friend as you should never swim in open waters alone, even if it organised by a group.

Open Swim Temperatures

There’s no getting around it.  In the UK, open water swimming is cold, and you just need to be prepared for that. If you are used to swimming in a heated pool, an average outdoor water temperature range of 14 °C to 16 °C will feel cold.  On the positive side, it feels great and very invigorating, once you’re in!

We also advise that if it’s your first open swim, then it’s best to walk in gradually until you are forced to swim out of depth.   This will give your body time to acclimatise to the water.  Then start swimming with a gentle breaststroke.  Swim gently around close to the water entry point to ensure you feel comfortable and once you’re happy with the temperature and how you feel, speed up with a good, strong front crawl.  Again, for the first time, don’t swim too far or for too long to enable you to get used to the experience and so you enjoy yourself too.

Open Swim Equipment

Other than a wetsuit, swimming costume and goggles there’s not much else you need when it comes to open water swimming through we do recommend that you invest in some specific items to help you along the way.

A wetsuit is important as it not only gives your body the extra warmth you need to enable you to swim for longer; it will also give you extra buoyancy which will help you to float safely in the water, and to swim a bit faster.  It’s vital that the wetsuit fits properly to avoid the cold water seeping in.  At Sharks Swim shop we offer a fitting service for all wetsuits including for open water swimming.

 It’s also a good idea to wear a brightly coloured silicon swimming cap.  Not only will it keep your head warm but also the safety team will be able to see you more easily.

For first timers, tow floats are also a good idea. These safety devices strap around your waist and are towed behind as you swim. They too are bright and can be seen clearly by people in the water as well as the safety staff.  What’s more as they are inflated, they are a great help if you need a rest; In addition, some models offer water-proof storage, so you can put personal items like keys or your phone in them.

End of the Swim

When planning your first open water swim, you should also plan what you will need when your swim is over and you’re getting out of the water.  Think about a towel or dry robe (which makes it easy change out of your wetsuit).  You should also have a hat and warm clothes ready to change into as well as a flask with a hot drink to warm up your insides too.

Sharks Swim Shop

As you become a more experienced swimmer, you will start to get a feel of what works for you and the changes you can make to improve your open water swimming experience.

At Sharks Swim Shop, in addition to stocking a huge range of wet suits and offering a wetsuit fitting service, we stock all of the other accessories you will need for a fantastic open swim experience.

Through our Swim Schools and Tri Club, we also offer open swimming training sessions for adults and children.  To find out more, call us on the number below:

Open water swimming

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