With less than a month to go before the open water swimming season starts I thought it would be useful to highlight what you can do in preparation of the opening day :
- Wetsuit: It may have been a few months since you last squeezed into the wet suit. Before your first swim check it still fits. Check it has not corroded over the winter and address any holes with a neoprene adhesive.
- Swim Cap: You may have been used to swimming in warm waters over the summer, but the start of the season tends to be significantly cooler. Invest in a neoprene hat to keep your head warm. It will also mean you can swim for longer during the initial weeks of the season without getting brain freeze.
- Booties and Gloves: Some people don’t notice the cold on their hands and feet, but if you suffer from cold extremities then investing in booties and gloves could help you enjoy your cold weather swim with out worrying about numb hands and feet.
- Swim Buoy: Swimming in the open water is very exciting especially the feeling of isolation and adventure, to ensure your safety (especially in rivers and ocean) investing in a swim buoy is a must. the Swim buoy will ensure you are seen by passing boats. It also doubles up as a dry bag to tow some shoes, fuel or mobile.
- Goggles: There are endless goggles on the market and the right ones tend to be a personal preference. Two things to think about for open water swimming are; protecting your eyes from the sun by using polarised lenses and making sure you have as wide of a field of vision as possible, generally the wider bigger lenses will help with this.
- Dealing with the Cold: Water temperatures in the early season are likely to be close to 10c. Being mentally prepared to be submerged in this temperature is a must, otherwise there is risk of panic attack or loss of consciousness in extreme cases. Practice being submerged in cold water baths or spend the first few sessions at the lake acclimatising to temperature before you swim off into the open water. All the previously mentioned accessories will help your body mange in cold water.
- Build your Endurance: Open water swimming generally is longer and slower than pool swimming, use the next few weeks to focus on longer sets to build your endurance, which will help you manage the longer distances in open water.
- Have a plan: Make sure you are making the most of each session in open water. If your putting in the effort to swim outside make sure your session is structured to help you become a step closer to your goal. i.e you may want to practice swimming in large groups, or practice swimming alone for long periods. If this is the case make sure your sessions reflect this.
- Have fun: If your goal is just to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, then no plan is necessary! Bring your friends to experience the swim with you are chat to like minded people to make some new friends who are as crazy as you are.