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7 steps for starting open water swimming

So you’ve seen the lovely pictures of open water swimming, heard people talking about it, and you’re ready to have a go.

Follow our seven steps for getting involved for the first time.

7 steps for starting open water swimming

  1. Find a friend… or a group of friends!Whether it’s someone who already swims open water, another newbie who wants to give it a go, or a group of friends from work. We all know something shared is much more fun and you’ll be surprised how many people out there have thought about trying open water.
  2. Try open water technique in the pool firstIt’s always helpful to find out if your local swimming pool can give you some open water coaching lessons first. Try asking them for either 1:1 or group adult sessions. These should give you an added boost to your confidence and skill levels before getting in the open water.
  3. Find a venue that suits your needsThink about your ability – are you a social swimmer, a triathlete, a fitness swimmer, club swimmer, serious swimmer? Don’t simply choose the one nearest to you for your first time. Find the venue, look at the website and see what they offer.
  4. Bring all the gearMake sure you’ve got everything you need. It’s so disappointing to have to go all the way home because you’ve forgotten your costume (and we’ve all done that at some point) or another useful piece of kit.
  5. Give yourself plenty of timeNot only to find the venue, because the venues do tend to be tucked away in the middle of nowhere, but also so you don’t worry and start panicking before you’ve even got in the water. It’s a different challenge to pool swimming, and it’s okay to feel nervous or apprehensive.
  6. Don’t pretend to be a proWhen you go to pay, make sure you make it clear this is your first time open water swimming and the first time at the venue. If it’s a good venue or coach, they will make sure you are safe and comfortable.
  7. Relax and enjoyYou’re prepared and you’ve got this. If you feel yourself panicking in the water, try not to worry. This does happen to many people and is normal because you are doing something which feels very different! Try and slow your breathing down, turn onto your back and relax.

Keep trying

If you are struggling to relax and enjoy yourself, signal to one of the lifeguards who can help. But one bad experience, shouldn’t put you off.

Each venue is different with different water, different amounts of weeds or nature, and different courses. One venue might not suit you, but others will.

Talk to other swimmers – open water is a very friendly place to be and many swimmers have tried a range of venues in the area.

Finally, the last thing to do is make sure you have a hot cuppa with cake afterwards. A treasured open water swimming tradition!

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