Some people find open water swimming causes anxiety but with practice, support and safety precautions it can become meditative and one of your most favorite things to do.
First off, if you are swimming in cooler water you will want to get a properly fitting wetsuit. Wetsuits that are too tight around the ribs will restrict your breathing and contribute to anxiety. Locally, Tri-It Multisport can help you out with this. Even with a wetsuit on, swimming in cold water can take your breath away. Take your time getting in, splash cold water on your face and put some water in the neck of your suit. Your body heat will warm it up.
Photo: Richelle Love of Tri-It Multisport explaining proper wetsuit fit.
If you are new to open water swimming, you will want to connect with a group that has coach support. A coach can teach you open water skills to make you more comfortable and provide support if you run into trouble. If you would like more information about open water swimming private or group sessions: Contact Us
Further, it is always a good idea to swim with someone else but if you often find yourself swimming solo, get a personal swim buoy.
Finally, here are some safety tips:
- Practice in a pool. Although chlorine isn’t great for wetsuits, it’s ok to try out your wetsuit in a pool a few times to make sure you feel comfortable before hitting open water.
- Try not to swim alone. If you are, swim parallel to shore with a spotter or stay close to shore if you are doing a lake perimeter.
- Know your body of water. If you are in an ocean, know your currents and local marine life. If you are in a lake, make sure it is safe to swim in. Fresh water and even salt water can sometimes have harmful parasites. Also check water temperature – if it’s very warm, swimming in a wetsuit can be dangerous and if it’s too cold, even in a wetsuit you can get hypothermia.
- ALWAYS check the weather. Thunderstorms can roll in quickly and winds can cause dangerous chop. If the weather is questionable stay close to shore and never swim when there is lightening!
- Keep it simple! Even if you aren’t anxious about swimming in open water, keep it short during your first few swims so that you can gain confidence. If possible, find a beach with a lifeguard or a smaller lake that has a designated swim area where you can swim parallel to shore.
I hope these tips give you confidence to go out and try open water swimming. Once you become comfortable I think you will find it’s a very relaxing form of fitness!