Since the launch of the Great Swims the popularity of open water swimming has grown tremendously & now can see as many as 10,000 swimmers competing in bigger events. But what if you have set yourself a challenge this year of competing in your first open water swim? What do you need to get you started?
Aside from actually knowing how to swim, there are a few little insider’s tips that should make your first dabble into open water a much more enjoyable experience.
Top Ten Beginner Tips
Try your wetsuit before your event
Make sure it fits, if possible have a swim in it. Some shops might have an Endless Pool or special try-on days, where you can swim in the wetsuit.
Make sure your nails are short, long nails can rip through the thin neoprene. When putting on your wetsuit, try to use the palms of your hands. If you have long nails, consider wearing gloves.
Make sure your goggles don’t leak & keep a spare pair in you kit bag just in case the strap breaks.
If you are using Bodyglide – try not get it on your goggles as will affect your vision & it is difficult to get off if you are in a hurry.
Cold Water Conditioning
Practise in cold water in the weeks before the race in order to acclimatise and prevent panic and hyperventilation on the day. It is essential that you have prepared for the day.
Practice in Open Water
If possible attend an open water session with an open water swim coach such as a 1-2-1 or group session. There are many open water skills to learn such as mass starts, sighting, turning around buoys and adapting your stroke that will really help improve your swim on the day of the event.
Have a quick warm up in the water if time allows before the race. You will normally get a chance to swim out to the start. If you prefer not to warm up, the very least you should do is splash your face with water and slowly submerge your face, this will help alleviate the shock of the cold water.
Wear two caps
You lose most of your heat through your head and doubling up helps you retain your heat. It is worth investing in a neoprene hat to wear underneath your bright swim cap.
Wear a bright cap when swimming in open water
Bright pink, fluorescent yellow, orange or fluorescent green are ideal something that will be seen by other water users. Black, grey, blue, white or dark green are not easily visible.
Don’t shave right before the race, razor burn and salt water can make for a rather uncomfortable swim.
Peeing in your wetsuit is the done thing, even though it sounds disgusting. It can warm you up and saves you having to find a toilet at last minute. Also it is difficult trying to wee whilst swimming.
By Christine Johnson
This article has been provided by Christine Johnson an Open water & Triathlon swim coach based in the Lake District and owner of www.sleekerswim.co.uk Christine runs both open water & swim technique courses.