Outdoor Living

7 Things You Need For Your First Open Water Swim | Essential Tips For Open Water Swimming

Sep 2, 2021

If you're intrigued about open water swimming and don't know where to start, or maybe scared of taking the plunge, well we have got six tips before your first open water swim. (light music) (shingling) - Firstly, the kit you use can make a huge difference. Now this doesn't mean heading out, breaking the bank and buying all the latest and greatest kit available, but having a kit that's suitable for the conditions will help you massively. Now if you are embarking on a slightly cooler temperature water swim then we would highly recommend wearing a wetsuit, not just for the added warmth, but also for added buoyancy which will, in turn, increase your confidence in the water. - Yeah, and you might not be ready to go and buy a brand new wetsuit for your very first open water swim, and that's understandable. But, if you go to your local dealer or quite often open water swimming venue, they'll actually have wetsuits that you can hire to get a feel. But if, say at home, you've got an old sailing or a surfing wetsuit, you can use that for your attempt. Obviously, it's not designed for swimming, so it's going to be quite restrictive around the shoulders, but it'll at least give you an idea of what open water swimming is like. And then if you do want to borrow one, whatever you're going for, just make sure you've got the right fit, because if it's too small, it can feel really restrictive and actually make it feel hard to breathe. And on the other end of the spectrum, if you've got one that's too large, it ends up being little bit like a net and just slowing your down. - Yeah, now regardless of the conditions, it's actually really good practice to swim with something like this which is a swim buoy, tow float, whatever you want to call it, just so that people can see you from a distance or particularly if you are swimming alone or in the sea. Another thing on that sort of lane of thought is actually swimming with a brightly colored hat like this one, again, so that people can see you from a distance really clearly. And your goggles.

 

Now you want to be able to see well in the water, so getting a good set of goggles will make a massive difference so that you can see everything, you can sight those buoys. If your goals for a girth were a little bit worse for wear, we'd highly recommend getting yourself a new set to make the whole experience a little bit more pleasurable. (upbeat music) - If you're watching this video, then I'm guessing you are probably feeling a little bit apprehensive ahead of your first open water swim. And that is completely normal. So don't be surprised if you do experience maybe a little bit of shock or panic even when you get into the water for the first time. 'Cause after all, you're getting into some new, unknown area, a vast area, and also, it's probably going to be a little bit colder than what you're used to. - Yeah, now our advice on this would be to gradually get yourself into the water. I actually suggest just splashing a little bit of water at yourself once you're on dry land, particularly onto the face. Also, dip your hands into the water. Allow them a little bit of time to adjust. And then, if you can, just ease yourself into the water or walk yourself into the water. And try and pull as it waist-high, if that's possible. Again, just allow yourself time to collect yourself, get used to that temperature and then progress a little bit further until you're fully submerging and getting your head under. And if you do start to feel a little bit of a panic when you've got your head under, then just turn back over onto your back and control your breathing so you've got your head above water. You can just start to relax. And once you've got that breathing back under control, then flip back over and have another go. (soothing music) Call it a stake, the ocean sea when people come into open water is because there are no walls that you have in a swimming pool, just getting in and swimming continuously. But it's okay to take breaks, relax and actually break it up. So think about it like a swimming session and something that I quite often do is I actually do one lap easy as a warm up, take a rest and then go ahead with the main set. (soothing music) - Well the main differences we have when we compare pool swimming to open water swimming is that we need to sight in the open water. So make sure that we're staying on track. Now if we're following a pre-plank course or a set of buoys in the water, we're going to be taking the most direct line to that buoy, rather than maybe deviating, of course, and potentially swimming further than we need to. Now, pretty much everyone, if they put their head down in the water and just swim normally, will drift ever so slightly off course. So we want to make sure that we're sighting from time to time. And this should be somewhere in the region of every five to 10 strokes. And if you're entering yourself in for a race, make sure you know the layout of that course, how many buoys you need to pass before you take a turn, and also, the color of the buoys is quite important.

 

Now, in terms of the sighting itself, make sure you're not lifting your head out too much. Rather, it should just be your eyes, and then you continue to breathe to the side as you normal would. If you lift your whole head out with your mouth and take a breath to the front as you sight, you risk your feet dropping down and making your swim quite a lot harder. But for a bit more detail on that, we'll be throwing to a video at the end which explains this a bit more thoroughly. (upbeat music) - As we've mentioned racing, we probably should talk about positioning. And when it comes to an event, there's probably going to be lots of other people around you. It can be slightly unnerving. So, it's best not to position yourself right in the middle amongst everybody. If you are new or a little bit nervous with open water racing, then it's a good idea to head to this outside of the park or maybe hang towards the back way. You're going to find some clearer water, but when it comes to really big events, even if you do make sure you space yourself nicely, you're probably still going to clash arms with somebody. But just remember that they're probably equally as nervous as you are, and they're not going to be doing it intentionally. So just try and stay calm, focus on your own race, and concentrate on keeping your stroke nice and smooth. (soothing music) - Finally, drafting. Now literally, this is a pretty advanced skill, but it may be something that you want to build up to or works towards as you build your confidence in the water. And it's pretty much like drafting on the bike, really. When we draft in the water, we sit directly behind someone or directly beside their hip, and we get a bit of a tow, so this could save ourselves energy when we're in the water or tentatively, we can work at the same rate, latch onto a slightly faster swimmer and get round the swim of it faster.

 

Now, it can take a bit of time to master the skill, so we recommend just practicing with a training partner, getting closer and closer. When we're drafting on the feet, you want to almost be gloshing their toes with your fingertips. But around the hip, your head should almost be around their pelvis or hip height. Basically, we're trying to surf their wake. And then, in terms of how close we are to you, your arms should more or less be brushing their thigh as you pull through. But the most important thing of all of this is that you enjoy. Remember that the reason that you embarked upon all of this in the first place was to have fun. So try not to get too carried away with times, paces, places, especially if you are getting stuck in to a race as well. - Yeah, 100%. Well if you have enjoyed this, give us a thumbs up. And to make sure you get all of our videos at Global Triathlon Network, then just find the globe onscreen. If you're not, then look at these swim caps. We've actually got them in three different bike colors, perfect for open water swimming, where you can find those by just clicking on the link for the shop. And we've got a video on nine open water swimming tips just down here. - Yeah, and if you'd like to look at how you can increase your confidence in the water, then we've got a video on that, just down here.

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