Open Water Swimming Phenomenon
Why is there a boom of people going in the sea year-round?
Anna Langridge from 1FitLife interviews Wave 23 on the emerging fitness obsession of open water swimming
During Covid lockdowns, people have been looking for new types of fun, fitness and community. It’s been challenging for everyone to maintain their motivation to work on their wellness. Normally many people’s only source of exercise is going to their local gym, but because of the pandemic, the only way we could exercise and get some sort of entertainment is by being creative whether that’s indoors or outdoors. Open water swimming has resulted in amazing benefits for people who want enjoyment as well as exercise year-round. We’ve seen people swimming on our beaches throughout the winter and now the summer months are here the numbers are increasing weekly. It’s a great way to keep fit, have a real connection with nature, see things from a completely different perspective, and discover new and beautiful views. It’s a completely inclusive sport; anybody can do it. Also, it can help you develop a great connection with your fellow swimmers (which has been lacking due to the pandemic).
While there are many benefits for your physical health, there are also huge mental health benefits. This could be feeling a sense of community, finding a sense of purpose in a difficult time or just doing it for yourself and improving your mental wellbeing. Wave 23 told us why they set the group up, “we are all passionate about swimming and have all come to love open water through different routes. All of the Wave 23 coaches are Southbourne Surf Life Saving Club members and seeing the increased interest in their Seniors sessions gave us the confidence to set up the group, as there was a big interest in the local community for open water coaching and training. We’ve seen over 100 swimmers in the last year ranging from 9 years olds to over 60’s. Open water swimming is safe if you are prepared and understand the risks and your body’s capabilities and limits”.
There are many dangers in open water and here are some tips for safe practice:
- Don’t swim alone no matter how experienced a swimmer you are
- Choose wisely where you swim (consider lifeguard beaches, busy beaches, beaches with facilities)
- Always be prepared to cancel or cut short a swim if needed (the sea will be there next time).
- Never underestimate the sea conditions (the sea temperature, the weather, not knowing your ability while swimming and being unprepared). Wave 23 tries its best to prevent this by setting up introductory sessions to provide people with the knowledge they need to ensure they have a safe swim.
- Ideally, you must be able to swim a confident 200m in a pool.
- The open water can catch you off-guard. This means that swimming 200m in a pool can be very different to the ocean and therefore you will need to take it slow and then build up the intensity throughout the sessions.
- Start your training in the summer when the water is warmer. But the most important thing is to begin with short bursts – just 2 or 3 mins, building up each time.
- When the instructors are coaching, they tend to wear wetsuits as part of their RA. For the social swims and introduction to sea swimming, it is left up to the swimmers. ‘at the end of the day, people should be able to enjoy the sea however they want.
- If you have any doubts about the suitability of open water swimming for you as an individual, check with your GP first and join an official swimming club.
Many people have enjoyed the excitement of the sport and the feelings they experience from going in the sea from sunrise onwards. It is a great way to start the day, wind down after work, have fun with family or friends, do some physical activity and cleanse your mind. There are many groups now based along Dorset beaches and lakes so join your local club but make sure you follow the safety guidelines.
For further information on Wave 23 contact firstname.lastname@example.org