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Starting open water sessions at your club

Our National Open Water Officer Sharon Lock explains why you should consider introducing open water sessions at your club.

Benefits of taking club swimmers to open water

I’m passionate about promoting open water swimming and swimmers that try it often become the best advocates.

Swimmers love the lack of lane ropes or chemicals and the opportunity to try out something new surrounded by nature.

They find their love for swimming is reinvigorated so my question to you is, why not try it?

I get asked all the time ‘isn’t open water swimming dangerous?’ Swimming outdoors has its challenges but if it’s at an organised swimming venue with qualified coaches it can be great fun!

Taking your club swimmers into open water will give them the challenge of trying something new. It lets them overcome any fears they may have and be part of a team.

It also gives long distance swimmers the opportunity to experience a different aspect to racing, new techniques, and test their abilities.

Some swimmers who aren’t reaching their potential in a pool often find their feet and flourish in an outdoor environment. Providing new opportunities for your swimmers can help to retain interest and boost enjoyment.

Adding another dimension to the club programme

I spoke to our Open Water Talent Lead Mike Parker about open water swimming, and he told me it can add another dimension to club programmes.

“Swim England Talent offers a dynamic and progressive development pathway for competitive open water swimming athletes,” he said.

“Swimming clubs in England are in an ideal position to facilitate open water swimming training whether that be in the pool or in an open water environment.

“I have no doubt that it will add another dimension to your club programme, which will bring positive long term benefits to your athletes.

“By it’s very nature, open water swimming promotes resilience, self-confidence, independence and self-regulation and of course it’s fun to do.”

Boy swimming in open water

How to introduce open water sessions at your club

If you are looking to introduce open water sessions at your club, you will need to consider the following four things:

  1. starting off with taster sessions
  2. training your coaches for regular sessions
  3. introducing open water training in the pool
  4. registering as an open water club with your region.

Taster sessions

Initially many clubs start by having a fun session early on in the season as a social trip.

You may have seen the inflatable obstacle courses at open water venues which grab swimmers attention. This is a good way to get people into the water in a fun way but it is only a start.

Many of these venues will also offer open water coached sessions which are helpful if your club does not have a qualified open water coach.

These sessions can give the club and swimmers an initial understanding and feel for the discipline.

Train your coach

If you want to take this further you can choose to either train and use your own Level 2 open water coach or use a suitably trained coach which the venue can provide for regular training sessions.

We always recommend using an organised and safe open water swimming venue, but this may not always be possible.

Where a club is providing all of the safety procedures themselves, it is essential the coach holds a level 2 qualification in open water swimming and understands the health and safety principles the club must follow.

Open water sessions in the pool

If your swimmers are starting to progress within the open water talent pathway then Swim England Talent recommends their coach looks at providing open water coaching sessions in the pool throughout the year.

Please see Swim England Open Water Talent Pathway for further information.

Register the new discipline

If your club is planning on taking it’s swimmers training regularly in open water you must register the new discipline with your region and change your constitution accordingly.

If you would like any further help please get in touch with your local Club Development Officer via your Regional Office.

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