Open Water can be daunting to many of us for the following reasons: cold water, poor visibility, marine life, waves, water current and close proximity swimming with others. So how can we make the transition from pool to open water as enjoyable and stress free as possible?
During pool sessions, lane ropes guide you to swim in a recognised and specified format. This allows you to concentrate solely on swimming technique and achieving the session outcomes. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can be challenging, as you can be distracted by external factors within the open water environment. This may often cause stress and anxiety for some individuals. However by learning different techniques and understanding the discipline, this can help to overcome some of the challenges you may face to make it a more enjoyable experience.
By speaking to experienced open water swimmers or a coach, this will help manage your expectations of open water swimming and provide you with techniques to deal with any worries before taking to the water. A few examples of these could be on what to expect when that first stream of water finds its way inside your wetsuit or pond life touching your toes, just to name but a few.
Visit the venue first to familiarise yourself with the setup and talk to the organiser, they will be able to give you the local information.
Make sure your choice of swim kit has had some thought:
Does your wetsuit fit correctly?
What type of hat will you use?
Do you have suitable goggles for the weather conditions? In some cases you may be able to try all these out in the pool.
We all need to think about our safety even though there are safety crew at the venue.
Have you familiarised yourself with the environment; where is the deep/shallow water?
Are there any under water shelves?
What wildlife can you expect to come into contact with (some fish swim very close)?
Are you aware of how to call for help and where is the safety cover is located?
Be aware and understand the effects of cold water.
There are plenty of sessions for those new to open water, where you can share experiences and gain support from others to build up your confidence within open water swimming.
Take the first step into open water swimming: gain a new skill and make new friends.
For more information visit Open Water where you can find more tips to develop your skills in the open water.
Swim England North West are also running a series of Taster Sessions for swimmers aged 12-16 and these can be booked online.