Open water lake swimming

Open water swimming, where do I start?

Updated: Feb 26

So you have made the decision that you're going give open water swimming a try and it could be for an event, wild swim, Ironman, swimrun or triathlon. The triathlon can be pool based or open water.

It's all very exciting but you are filled with slight trepidation too and not sure where to start?

Stanborough Lakes
Make sure your first open water experience is amazing!

Kit List

  • Bright coloured swim cap

  • Goggles that don't leak

  • Tow float

  • Swimming costume

  • Swim towel

  • Flip flops

  • Warm layers for after your swim

  • Wetsuit that is designed for open water swimming

  • Waterproof bag to take wet wetsuit home in.

  • Poncho

  • A warm drink

The bright coloured swim cap allows you to be seen in the water by kayakers, boats, barges and lifeguards, it also helps with warmth. At the start of the season you can double cap.

It's essential your googles don't leak. Not been able to see clearly to sight and constantly having to clear goggles of water is frustrating and annoying. Test all goggles in the pool or even the shower. Zoggs Predators, I find are a good goggle which fits most swimmers.

Tow floats allow you to be seen and stay safe. You can hang on them if you need to. I like using the Swim Secure brand. The tow woggle is brilliant for children and nervous adults swimmers. The wild swim bag doubles up as a tow float and dry bag to carry your wetsuit home.

Walking on stones with cold feet is not pleasant, so flip flops or crocs are great for walking from the parking area to the lake.

A wetsuit provides warmth and buoyancy but you should also consider the fit. You are wanting good movement in the shoulders, not tight at the neck or feeling like you can't actually move so you feel comfortable while swimming.

Tips for Wetsuit fitting

  • Snug fit but not tight

  • No folds or excess material

  • Shoulder mobility

  • Good fit around the neck so not feeling suffocated.

  • Arms and leg holes are snug to not let water into the suit.

A poncho or change robe are a nice thing to have especially with all the changing rooms out of use, you get changed at the car.

Brands: Smoc Smoc, Dryrobe, Red, Charlie McLeod

Location to swim

I would highly recommend you choose a lake where the open water swimming is managed and offer safety cover.

  • Stanborough Lakes

  • Denham Waterski

  • Boxend

  • Redricks

  • Merchant Taylors (active training world)

Denham open water swimming.
Denham Waterski

Water temperature

Your first swim will always be cold. I would highly recommend you don't dive straight into the water. The cold water shock can be scary and you will feel panicked. The breathing will not be controlled and you may hyperventilate. A gradual walk into the water is the best. Acclimatise slowly before swimming around the open water circuit.

Swim the distance in the pool

Make sure you can swim the the distance of your event in the pool. With pools being closed, I would definitely take caution on your first swim. Remember your first swim must be fabulous. It's a good feeling to build on a swim that was done correctly. Your confidence will go from strength to strength with a good introduction.

Practice, Practice,Practice!

With open water swimming the more often you do it, the easier it becomes.

Pool2lake Introduction Sessions

Pool2lake Open Water offer professional coaching which will help you transition from pool to open water with confidence. Training with an experienced open water coach will make all the difference to your open water experience. You get given practical tips and a better understanding of the open water techniques like sighting, drafting, stroke adaption and correct breathing. It's vital your first swim is a good one.

Don't give up after your first swim. Remember open water swimming a journey which takes time, determination and dedication.

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