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Thread to evangelise about open water swimming!

(79 Posts)
dynevoran Tue 14-Jul-15 07:27:07

Where has this been all my life? The feeling is amazing. I started at the start of June and can't believe I've swum all my life and never tried it til this year.

I did a 1.5km event/race on Sunday and came 26th out of 71 people. I'm just over the moon at 32 years old to finally find the exercise that clicks and I really love and am naturally good at. I persevere with running but I'm not a natural. I enjoy weights but the buzz isn't the same.

So if you like to swim....make the most of this amazing weather and start open water swimming before the proper season ends! You might be like me and have finally found your calling - fitness wise!

Whichseason Tue 14-Jul-15 07:29:44

It can be very danger. Every year several people die doing this. Take care.

dynevoran Tue 14-Jul-15 07:36:17

Of course. But there are sessions run throughout the summer which have safety teams in the water with you. The risk is really minimal when you swim at such an event. At the lake I swim at they do 3 sessions a week and there are people on the shore and in kayaks in the water watching.

I think this is why lots of people never try it as they think it is much more dangerous than it is. Take proper precautions and like most things the risks are minimal!

TriJo Tue 14-Jul-15 10:34:03

I absolutely love it too! There is something just so pleasant about an outdoor swim on a nice day - good for the mind, the body and the soul.

I tend to use the Ladies Pond at Hampstead Heath (lifeguarded year-round) and the West Reservoir Centre at Stoke Newington (organised sessions) mostly - and am quite aware at this stage of how my body feels in cool water. I worry more about my safety when cycling tbh.

dynevoran Tue 14-Jul-15 11:58:54

trijo I'm hoping I can tolerate the colder water over winter. Stokey reservoir is really close to me but I've been going to the lake at merchant Taylor's near Watford over the summer as its just so pretty around there and is very quick for me to get to at 6am on a Saturday / Sunday.

I think I'll have to try the ladies pond if it's year round. I don't want to have to wait til next summer to start again. Is it really okay with a wetsuit in winter? I've only swum in 19° and above so far!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 14-Jul-15 12:00:02

Swimming outside is so much nicer than swimming inside!

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 14-Jul-15 12:20:16

I love wild swimming too, though I don't go for either speed or distance so much as enjoying nature and the odd rope swing or natural jacuzzi! I have been known to swim in the winter too...

Definitely read about the hazards if you're new to swimming in the wild. Open water has lots of risks but you can learn about them and treat them with respect. There are some good groups on Facebook if you want to hook up with other swimmers.

TriJo Tue 14-Jul-15 12:40:22

Last year I swam with a wetsuit in the ladies pond until November and started again in early April. My personal cutoff is 11c ish with a wetsuit and neoprene swimming cap. Give it a go anyway smile

suzannecanthecan Tue 14-Jul-15 14:24:35

I wish I could do it but I am easily spooked by the thought of creatures lurking in the water, and there's no where nearby except the sea which is often either scummy and/or too choppy!

Swimming pools often seem too warm so I think I'd like cold watersmile
(up to a point anyway)

LikeABadSethRogenMovie Tue 14-Jul-15 14:27:31

I love swimming but am a giant baby when it comes to open water swimming. If I can't see the floor, I'm not interested. I do often wish I could get over myself.


TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 14-Jul-15 14:29:22

You could go somewhere crystal clear like the Fairy Pools on Skye!

suzannecanthecan Tue 14-Jul-15 14:36:57

the fairy pools look sublime, sadly not at all local to me but if I'm ever up that way I shall take a looksmile

sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 14:37:36

I tried Parliament Hill Lido earlier this year, (no wetsuit) in June - it was about 16c and the initial 5 minutes was tough but then my face stopped hurting grin, then swim was lovely for about 15 minutes or so (swimming at close to max effort) but then I started to get cold again, I got out when I felt like my feet had fallen off! Total maybe 25 minutes whereas I swim for 40mins+ usually. I think your body does acclimatise with regular visits though. But I didn't really feel like I'd had a proper workout and unfortunately I didn't get the buzz that everyone goes on about! The temp there now is about 21c and that sounds like it would be lovely. I have a friend who swims in the Ponds year round - breaks the ice in December/January shock - not for me!! I have to say I prefer a pool to true open water - I find it very distracting having to constantly orientate myself, watch out for hazard in the sea, would rather get my head down and go smile.

sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 14:41:06

I would add as a health coach though, that for many people there is something very therapeutic about being immersed in natural open water, a definite sense of reconnection with nature, even if there's no swimming involved.

specialsubject Tue 14-Jul-15 14:41:18

to say 'don't enter open water' is nanny state gone bonkers; does that mean no sea swimming? A better statement would be 'use what is between your ears' if you are not at an organised session.

which means:
- DON'T dive or jump- you don't know what is underneath and can break your neck. You can also get tangled in weeds and so on, so pontoon jumping is also really stupid.
- it is not a swimming pool. Ask around for safer spots.
- don't swim near weirs or similar fast flowing water areas (use the brain?)
- don't swim pissed or stoned. Don't get so drunk that you can't walk straight, and if you do don't go home along the river bank.
- don't swim alone
- keep your head above water, don't swallow any and don't swim with open wounds.
- if someone gets into difficulty, do NOT go in after them. Call 999 and throw them something that floats. (this is why people who vandalise life rings should be shot)

more hints following the tragedy mentioned above:

Mermaid36 Tue 14-Jul-15 14:42:03

Squeee! I love open water swimming! I've been doing it for 5 years now.... I'm mostly mid-to-long-ish distance (2 miles and up) and up until this year have done it all wetsuited....

A couple of weeks ago I did my first non-wetsuit event and swam across Windermere! It was a practically tropical 18 degrees in the water and I did 1200m in about 28mins, coming 9th in my age group and in the top 3rd of over 400 swimmers....

The coldest I've swum in has been 8 degrees (wetsuited).

I'm lucky enough to be able to drive to Windermere once a week for an open training session during the season (May to Sept up here)

sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 14:42:17

The new Kings X ponds are apparently fantastic too and they limit numbers to 40, you have to book, so no crowds, unlike the Lido hmm

suzannecanthecan Tue 14-Jul-15 14:50:51

I have to say I prefer a pool to true open water - I find it very distracting having to constantly orientate myself, watch out for hazard in the sea, would rather get my head down and go

I think I probably do too Sleep, ideally a very very long narrow pool, say a 200m pool...that would be good wouldnt it?

And cold enough to make you swim harder but not so cold that you fear imminent death/have to cut the session short.

sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 15:01:17

exactly! Although the PH Lido is 60m long with beautiful, clear and clean feeling water which was fab. Not sure there are (m)any bigger pools.

suzannecanthecan Tue 14-Jul-15 15:03:57

my closest local pool feels like human soup, warm with clumps of hair and bits of skin floating about

Mermaid36 Tue 14-Jul-15 15:04:01

I find indoor pools way too hot now, can't get a decent swim in without overheating....

sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 15:08:36


sleepwhenidie Tue 14-Jul-15 15:08:57

^ That's queasy not envious!

TriJo Tue 14-Jul-15 15:10:30

sleepwhenidie - Tooting Bec lido is 91m (100 yards) long and unheated! Definitely worth a go.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 14-Jul-15 15:11:34

I get a proper buzz below 15 degrees. 11 and under is too cold for more than a very quick dip but you get a hell of a high from it!

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