Guide To Open Water Swim Essentials


Does it sometimes seem scary? Yes, it does. It can be really frightening, cold and you have to be extra careful, but swimming in the open water is way more satisfying and fun compared to swimming in the pool. The view is without comparison better, the fact that it is unpredictable and you don’t know what to expect gives it another thrilling perspective. And last, but not least, although chilling in a way and dark, the fact that you could end up meeting different sea creatures – fish, crabs, or even dolphins – definitely makes the whole experience worth the effort.

But to enjoy It fully, there are some open water swimming essentials you’ll have to do or get before you head to the open water. They will help you create an amazing experience, and keep you warm, safe, and healthy along the way.

What To Wear

The water temperature in the open waters can vary and go from really hot, warm, and cozy to uncomfortably cold, or even freezing. To avoid possible negative effects and to keep your body comfortable as much as you can, it is recommended to have a wetsuit on.

Because it doesn’t cover your feet, your hands, and your head, you’ll also need to get neoprene socks to protect your feet, a swimming cap to keep your head warm, and gloves, to avoid possible finger freezing. If you’re swimming in warmer water, you won’t need socks, gloves, or even a cap, but a wetsuit is always a good idea and a good purchase. Remember, the water temperature could suddenly drop, so it is better to be prepared than to risk your own health and safety.

Open Water Goggles Are A Must

Open water swimming means you’ll probably spend some time in dark water, so it is a good idea to have something that will help you see what is going on around you. Goggles specially made for open water swimming will help you improve visibility and keep you comfortable, as you’ll be able to know what is happening beneath and see every creature you run into. If you wonder how to know you’ve found the goggles made for open water swimming, you’ll know when you see their coating which will help you see in different types of water. They have also a few addons, which could have different tints to help you see better in different lights during the day.

When it comes to looks, they’re a bit bigger and bulkier compared to pool goggles, and a bit more rugged. Also, they do cost a bit more, but buying them should be your first task after getting your wetsuit.

Don’t Forget About Safety Device

It is recommended to do it in a bigger company than swimming alone, but you don’t have to bring anyone with you if you don’t want to. No matter what you decide, you should not forget the safety aspect. One of the main things you should do is to make sure your swimming cap or swimming buoy is easily seen from the distance. The orange ones are the best, but basically, any bright color will do the trick and serve as a marker. Keep in mind that open waters could be unpredictable, so if something goes south, it will be easier for lifeguards, vessels, or other swimmers to spot you.

What To Eat

Another one from the list of „essentials“. Swimming for more than half an hour straight could be exhausting, it burns lots of calories, so it is important to bring something you could eat when you finish your session. Any kind of energy bar, snack, or even a sports drink will do. Another thing you should do is to stick a gel into your wetsuit to help you maintain your sugar levels even during your training.

Be careful! It is a good idea not to eat just before you start your training, or right after you’re done. You should wait at least an hour, or even two before you eat. The same goes before your training – swimming with your stomach full could make you feel nauseous, and it is not a good view of seeing your lunch outside of your tummy.

Protect And Wash Yourself


Although you feel nice and cozy, and don’t feel the sun’s heat, if it is sunny outside you should have your sunscreen on, especially if you’re swimming without a wetsuit. But pay attention, not every sunscreen is good for long swimming, and not every sunscreen is waterproof.

After you’re done swimming, take a shower. It will remove the salt that has gathered on your skin and your hair. Also, pay attention and get a good shampoo and conditioner, as it will keep your hair not just clean, but also healthy and strong. Another reason why you should shower almost immediately you’re done with swimming is the fact that it is possible you’ve run into some kind of a sea creature who’s stuck to your skin, and taking a shower will help you remove them and prevent possible skin irritations.

Finding A Perfect Place

By “perfect place” we don’t just mean “the most beautiful one”. No, “the perfect place” is the one where organized swimming sessions exist. This is good for a few different reasons. Firstly, you’ll be sure about the safety measures and won’t have to worry about it so much, so you could focus on the swimming part. Secondly, it is probably attractive and beautiful, if it has lots of people included. And last but not the least, swimming in a group means you’ll get a chance to meet someone who also loves swimming, make a new friend(s) and support each other during the session.

How To Prepare For Open Water Swimming

It is sure as fun as any other water activity, but open water swimming shouldn’t be taken lightly. So, besides having the right equipment with you, it is equally, or even more important to have your body prepared for this challenge.

Start by swimming in pools during the winter and working out a bit like the following activity. When May arrives, and the open water swimming sessions start to attract more and more people, it is time to hit the beach. But if you’re afraid the water will be too cold, you could wait until July or August, when the sea temperatures are the highest and it is the most pleasant time to swim outside.

If you decide to practice at the local pool, a piece of important information is the fact that water in the ocean, sea, river, or a lake where you’re going to swim is probably way colder than the one your pool operates at. It can take a while until you get used to it, and some tips could help you. Start by dipping your toes and then wetting your hands and chests. Then, wet your face and neck using your hands. After a few moments, you should be comfortable enough to get into the water. But don’t rush it, and definitely don’t jump right in, as the temperature difference between your body and the water could cause your body to fall into shock.

Be patient, and once you feel confident enough and comfortable, get in. Once your shoulders are about to get wet, exhale while you enter the water. It will make your second breath easier, especially if the water temperature is very low.

What To Do When You Exit The Water

If it is warm outside, you’ll have no problem getting out. Take your towel, wipe yourself with it, and go take a shower. But if it’s windy outside or the temperature has dropped, or the water temperature you’ve been in was low it is important to know what to do.

Start by drying your swim cap without removing it from your head, and placing the woolly hat over it. Now it is time to put the robe on. When buying the robe, get the one that comes with the hoodie, and put it over your head. It will help the rest of your body to heat up quickly. If you feel you’re warmed up and your body temperature back at its normal value, you could take the hat and the swimming cap off.

If you’re about to get changed, start with your feet. Dry them and put the socks on, and slowly follow with the rest of your clothes. Once done, it is time to go and get a warm cup of tea. But be extra careful, as your body could be still adjusting to the outside temperature, so even a mild hot beverage could be too hot for you at that moment. If that’s the case, give your body a few more minutes to warm up and your drink to cool down.

Equipment Tips And Suggestions

Besides the clothes you should wear during your swimming sessions, there are also some of the equipment gadgets you could find useful.

Earplugs are great for keeping the water from getting into your ear and spoiling all the fun, and they also keep your inner ear warm. Nose clips could also be useful if you breathe on your mouth, but they could also bother you if you’re used to breathing out through your nose while you swim, so it is up to you whether you’ll use them or not.

When it comes to safety measures, there are inflatable tow floats you could attach to your waist, and they could help you if something bad happens.

Now, the fun part. If you want to simply wander off with your headphones on and your mp3 playing your favorite pumped up a song, it is good to have a watch with you. Another good gadget is a fitness tracker, as it will help you track how many calories you’ve burned, the length of your session, etc. And when it comes to staying in touch with the world, you could always get some waterproof Fitbit, synchronize it with your phone and say hello to your friends far away from the shore. Last, but not least – getting a good underwater camera could be a great choice, as it will help you document all the amazing sights you’ve come across.

Other Useful Tips

Before you decide to swim in the open water, it is a good idea to visit the local marina, surf club, or swim club and ask someone for instructions. This should be done especially if it is your first time swimming in some area, and you’re going alone. Also, they’ll let you know if there are some kind of restrictions or forbidden areas.

Before you go, make sure you’ve told someone where are you going and give them the approximate route of your swimming plan. Water is unpredictable, the weather could change, and it is a good thing to have someone know when you’ll be back to the shore.

Use the winter period to practice and master different swimming styles and breathing techniques. For open water swimming, you’ll mostly need freestyle and breast stroke, and it is a good idea to learn how to swim backstroke. Breathing is equally important, especially If you’re going to the ocean as the sea could be rough and waves could be big, so you’ll need to be as efficient as possible.

Learn how to float without using too much strength, and practice sighting. It will help you spot the other swimmers, boats, objects, sea creatures.

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You’ve decided that this is the right thing for you? Great! You’re about to enter the world filled with an amazing experience, sights, and fun. But remember – open water is no joke and should be taken seriously. Follow the safety instructions no matter how experienced you are. If you’re contacted by a lifeguard, listen to him and do what he asks you to do.

While you’re in the water, listen to your body. If you feel you can’t do it anymore, head back to the shore. Don’t force it, and remember, the goal is to come back again!

This article should provide you the information needed for you to start your open-water swimming journey. The rest is up to you, your willingness to achieve something, and your will to dedicate to it.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!