Toughest Part of Open Water Swimming

Toughest Part of Open Water Swimming

Welcome Back! Wooooooo – figured I’d shake off the cobwebs and come at you with a new blog on a TOTALLY DIFFERENT subject: Open Water Swimming.

For me, Open Water Swimming is something I’ve ventured more into over the past two years due to COVID-19. I remember being in the middle of the lockdown, thinking, I need to swim and googled the closest LARGE body of water and grabbed my swimsuit/got on the road.

So yeah while Open Water Swimming and Pool Swimming are alike – they are most definitely NOT the same sport. Let’s dive deeper and discuss one of the main reasons why Open Water Swimming can be so challenging!

Let’s get started!

The coolest part about Open Water Swimming is it can be really anything you want it to be. It could be in a lake, ocean, or pond. You can choose the location (although make sure it’s safe and suitable for swimming) and jump right in.

From a flexibility and “fun” perspective, this can be so exciting – but on the other hand, very dangerous too.

I registered for the 2020 Louisville Ironman actually – not very many people knew that (and now a ton do haha), but my goal has always been to complete one FULL ironman in my lifetime. I did my first half Ironman in 2014 in New Orleans and immediately got the itch to do a full. I was fresh out of a breakup and figured 24/7 training was the best thing I could dive myself into and immediately got started. What I didn’t know was some research on the Louisville race itself prior to registering.

In 2019 the swimming portion of the Louisville Ironman was cancelled due to algal toxins being too high. While this may seem like no big deal to many reading, this is DEVASTATING for someone who has trained an entire year for this one, grueling race.

Training for an ironman is like training for an ultra marathon. The race itself takes anywhere from 10-17 hours. So while, the swimming portion is really only 1/8 of that race – it’s still was a huge disappointment for the racers prepared in 2019.

The Unpredictability:

Swimming in Open Water is truly unpredictable. The environment is open and can change at any second. So while yes – you could just go to the beach and hop on in – if you plan on seriously training or swimming in an Open Water situation, you need to make sure it’s suitable and not dangerous for you. This is the toughest part of Open Water Swimming.

Before you even step foot in an open body of water, make sure recreational swimming is allowed and you’ve checked the weather, water temperature, and tides. It’s also very important you have someone with you who can supervise you too – think of that person like your personal lifeguard.

I think one of the biggest game changers for me with Open Water Swimming is knowing when and where I can use a wetsuit and which races are wetsuit legal. A wetsuit helps not only with your body position and keeping you afloat on the surface, but regulate your body temperature too.

Recently, I received a 4mm wetsuit from SUMARPO and absolutely love it. If you’re interested in grabbing one of their products, use the promo code: ABBIE6688 for 15% OFF your order!

Coach Abbie Fish in SUMARPO’s 4mm Wetsuit

So while the news does have a tendency to highlight more of the horror stories of Open Water Swimming – I’m glad they shine a light on people and races where things have gone wrong, so more people think twice before hopping into an open body of water. I still think about a good friend of mine’s brother who passed away tragically in an Open Water Race.

I kick myself now, as I should have done my own research before signing up for the Louisville Ironman race, as I would have been one of those devastated participants in 2019. But, I learned my lesson and for any future races of mine I will definitely be doing my homework!

Make the Safe Call:

If you have any reservations on to where you are swimming, do yourself a favor and make the safe bet. While yes I love swimming and always will – let’s make sure you get to your next scheduled practice.

Here’s a few resources for some great tips and tricks to be better prepared for your next Open Water Swim:

1.) https://www.usaswimming.org/swimmers-parents/swimmers/open-water/open-water-education

2.) https://www.usms.org/open-water-central

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

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