What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know

Learn more about ‘What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming?’ Swimming in open bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, or even the ocean, is known as open water swimming.

Since its inclusion in the Olympics in 2008, open water swimming, sometimes referred to as “wild swimming,” has gained popularity.

 

What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know
What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know

Swimming in open water has a lot of dangers, such as scavenging harmful sea animals, tiredness, heatstroke, and dehydration. However, there are a few more advantages. Here, we examine the advantages of open water swimming, provide advice for getting in shape, and let you know how to keep safe.

 

Benefits Of Open Water Swimming

Long-distance swimming in open water may be the best option for you if you want to concentrate on endurance. 1 Generally speaking, swimming is a weight-free, easy-on-the-joints full-body workout, making it a more accessible exercise choice for people with joint issues.

Although more study is needed to fully understand how open water swimming affects mental health, preliminary findings indicate that it can dramatically lessen depressive and anxious symptoms.

— ELAINE K. HOWLEY, MARATHON SWIMMER

Elaine K. Howley, a marathon swimmer and the president of the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association, states that some clinicians in the UK have started prescribing open water swimming to patients as part of their treatment protocols for specific mental health concerns.

Additionally, studies show that swimming in cold water offers a number of health advantages, including a good effect on endocrine and hematological function. Additionally, those who swim in open water experience fewer respiratory tract infections, mood disorders, and generally feel better. 2

 

What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know
What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know

Due to their higher overall buoyancy and lower drag, elite female athletes typically swim in open water at a higher level of competition than males. 1 Having said that, every individual is unique, and everyone has a distinct physical make-up and level of athletic ability. Despite these variations, anybody can benefit from open water swimming if they follow the necessary safety procedures.

Tips For A Good Workout

There are several things you can do to ensure a solid workout if you’re thinking of include open water swimming in your exercise routine. Here are some pointers for maximizing your workout.

Nutrition

Open water swimming competitions have a variety of special dangers and requirements due to their setting and length. It’s crucial to keep hydrated because being in water doesn’t allow for temperature regulation. You can avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke by doing this.

Additionally, it is imperative that you include feeding pontoons in your plans if you want to swim in open water for a distance greater than 10 kilometers. The pontoons’ main function is to provide a swimmer with food and water. It is best to seek individual advice from a nutrition specialist or registered dietitian regarding what to eat prior to, during, and after an open water swim. 3

Training Goals

Swimmers should practice both on land and in the water to build up their physical endurance. Swimming in open water has a variety of difficulties that set it apart from other endurance sports. 4 In addition to learning how to control their emotions, swimmers should work on building their muscular endurance.

Swimming in open water is psychologically demanding. Therefore, developing your mental fortitude and perseverance is just as crucial as increasing physical endurance.

Some individuals find it beneficial to speak with a sports psychologist about techniques for strengthening their mental faculties. Remember that your breathing and heart rate can be affected by anxiety and other emotions. 5

So, be conscious of what’s happening in your body and mind. Swimmers should be especially aware of the water’s conditions and any bodily symptoms while pushing themselves to new boundaries.

Useful Equipment

A swimsuit, swim hat, and goggles are necessities for all swimmers. Wetsuits are occasionally used by swimmers in place of swimwear.

However, the final choice will be determined by the temperatures they will encounter.

Wetsuits of various varieties will differ in flexibility and thickness from one another.

Additionally, it is safer to have a friend or swimming partner nearby in a boat or kayak if swimmers are traveling long distances.

Swim in open water alone as little as possible because you never know when exhaustion or other symptoms will set in.

How To Stay Safe

Extreme environmental factors such water temperature, tides, currents, marine life, pollutants, and waves are common when swimming in open ocean. 51 There are a few things to remember when swimming in open water in order to be safe and healthy. The common risks associated with swimming in open water are examined in the sections that follow.

Water Quality

Swimmers are at a significantly higher risk of illness than the normal person since bacteria and viruses may thrive in the water and among the local insects. Rivers and coastal waters are particularly prone to viral infections. Open water swimmers primarily get ear infections and stomach problems.

The quality of the water is equally important to a swimmer’s health as the presence of germs and viruses.

Consider the potential for bacteria and microbes, potentially dangerous wildlife, the presence of chemicals, and even aesthetic value before swimming in a body of water.

Remember that the established water quality can also be significantly impacted by the weather and pollution. Verify that the water you are swimming in is at the very least safe for recreational swimming, is not close to a polluting site, and is not home to any aggressive or dangerous wildlife. 5

 

What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know
What Are The Tips For Open Water Swimming? What You Should Know

Temperature

Always keep in mind the dangers of cold water. Being immersed in water can cause hypothermia to set in up to five times faster than it would in that temperature otherwise because of the way water absorbs heat. 6

The first immersion is the most dangerous since it may result in a “cold shock” reaction. You’re likely to drown while in shock if no one comes to rescue. Even if you survive the first plunge, you are not necessarily safe.

A brief immersion may cause the neuromuscular system to cool, which may cause physical incapacitation. Hypothermia may result from prolonged immersion.

Additionally, if you need to be rescued due to the aforementioned symptoms, you might have shock from the sudden reversal. 5

Unfortunately, open water swimming is not just affected by cold temperatures. The condition known as heatstroke, which may be lethal if unchecked, affects swimmers often.

Due to the body’s inability to drain perspiration when swimming and loss of temperature control, heatstroke is another potential. Heatstroke can also be caused by a combination of warm water temperatures, sun exposure, and the heat absorption of dark neoprene suits. 5

Since our bodies respond to the water environment differently depending on the temperature, there is no ideal temperature for open water swimming.

For instance, conditioned swimmers may discover that a decent water temperature varies from 35°C-35.5°C (95-96°F), but unacclimated persons (those not used to outdoor swimming) think that this is too warm during a hard workout.

According to research, fit, non-obese people can control their body temperatures at 18°C (64°F) and 10°C (50°F) after 20 minutes of intense activity and after a quick drop in deep body temperature. However, there is a lot of variation from one person to the next.

There are rules for those who take part in open water swimming competitions because of this. The British Triathlon organization in the UK has the following rules to protect swimmers: 6

  • For a 1500-meter event, a wetsuit is mandatory at temperatures at or below 14°C (57°F), but it is forbidden at temperatures at or above 22°C (72°F)
  • At temperatures less than 11°C (52°F), it is recommended that no open water swimming takes place

Medical Considerations

Activity-induced bronchoconstriction may be present if you have a tight chest, a wheeze, or a cough after engaging in vigorous exercise (EIB). Asthma brought on by exercise is another name for EIB. 5 You should discuss your symptoms with a healthcare practitioner if you suspect you may have this problem.

Cardiovascular problems are also common among endurance athletes.

In actuality, true competition accounts for 80% of cardiac fatalities. Overstimulation of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems is assumed to be the cause of these cardiac fatalities. Your body might find the simultaneous co-activation of both to be too much.

Things like cold shock, rage, and anxiety cause the sympathetic nervous system to become active. Contrarily, actions like holding your breath, splashing water on your face, and getting water in the upper neck behind the nose cause the parasympathetic nervous system to become active. Especially in people with cardiac abnormalities, having all these things occur simultaneously can result in a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. 5

Takeaway

Open water swimming has hazards, even if it is a safe form of exercise for people who cannot lift heavy objects or have joint problems. Stay hydrated and safe at all times. Pay attention to your body, the weather, the fauna, and the state of the water. Above importantly, ensure sure you are never swimming alone and that assistance is accessible if necessary.

Remember to take a little break for food and drink if you are swimming more than 10 kilometers. Additionally, you should be cautious about the water’s temperature and how long you stay underwater.

In water, your body cannot control its temperature. Most essential, consult a healthcare professional before beginning a new workout routine like open water swimming if you are new to swimming.

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