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How to stay safe when swimming in open water

How to stay safe when swimming in open water

22.06.2023 | Outdoor How to Guides

Making the transition from swimming in a pool to venturing into open water can feel intimidating for many. However, with some simple safety steps and a willingness to embrace the wonders of the great outdoors, you can unlock a whole new world of swimming experiences. In this blog post, Swim Secure, one of Mountain Warehouse Marketplace brands, will share essential tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable open water swimming journey. From understanding the temperature differences to finding your community and staying visible, they’ve got you covered.

Embrace the Temperature Difference:

One of the main distinctions between pool and open water swimming is the temperature. Open water generally ranges between 15 to 20 degrees Celsius in summer, which may feel cooler compared to the controlled environment of a pool. Don’t let the cold deter you! Consider using a specially designed swimming wetsuit to keep you warm, enhance buoyancy, and allow for unrestricted movement. Alternatively, some swimmers prefer acclimatizing to the water gradually by starting with a standard swim suit.

Choose the Perfect Spot:

Open water swimming can be enjoyed in rivers, lakes, and the sea across the UK. Look for dedicated open water swimming venues that provide lifeguards for added peace of mind. These venues often offer induction and training sessions for newcomers, catering to the growing popularity of open water swimming in the UK. If you prefer swimming in non-patrolled areas, always swim with a buddy and inform others about your swim plans. Take into account factors such as currents and tides when selecting your swim location. Joining local open water swimming groups and clubs can provide valuable insights and help you find safe and enjoyable swim spots.

Gradual Entry and Acclimatisation:

When entering the water, take it slow. Give your body time to adjust to the cooler temperature gradually. Sudden immersion in cold water can lead to reduced blood flow to your limbs and an increased breathing rate. Avoid jumping in impulsively, as it can cause cold water shock and potential collisions with submerged objects. Take the time to wade into the water gradually, allowing your body to adapt comfortably.

Be Visible and Stay Safe:

Visibility is paramount when swimming in open water, particularly in areas shared with other water users. Wearing a brightly coloured hat is essential to make yourself easily noticeable. Additionally, consider using an inflatable tow float attached to a short leash. This serves as a clear signal to others that a swimmer is present in the water. The tow float not only enhances your visibility but also provides buoyancy support and may feature a waterproof compartment to keep your valuables safe while you swim.

Know Your Limits and Stay Warm:

Always be aware of your own limitations when swimming in open water. If you start feeling cold or fatigue setting in, it’s a sign that your core temperature may be dropping. Listen to your body and conclude your swim if necessary. Have warm clothes ready onshore to put on immediately after exiting the water, as your extremities may become colder due to blood circulation returning to them. Enjoy a hot drink to warm up, but avoid alcohol as it can lead to heat loss.

Transitioning from pool to open water swimming opens up exciting possibilities, but safety should always be a top priority. By following these essential tips, including understanding temperature differences, finding your community, staying visible, and knowing your limits, you can confidently and safely embrace the joys of swimming in open water. Remember to be prepared, respect the water, and enjoy the invigorating experience of open water swimming.

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