First Taste Of Open Water Swimming

Since last November, Saturday morning has always been a bike session either on the turbo or more recently on the road, but with my bike in the repair shop this week I jumped at the opportunity to have a go at something that I’ve wanted to do for ages…open water swimming.

Swimming is something I have never been afraid of nor have ever really struggled with so it didn’t cross my mind to be fazed by swimming in a lake or the sea. If anything I wanted to swim in the sea more than the lake because I assumed there would be less people about…one so that I wasn’t put off by everyone knowing what they were doing but mainly because I thought it would be more peaceful.

A bit like with the bike pros saying cycling on the road was much better than on the turbo (which turns out to be true), the hardcore swimmers also said open water swimming was much better than in a pool. Not being a particular fan of swimming pools I understood this much more than I could road vs turbo but nothing could quite prepare me for just how much I would enjoy it.

I probably didn’t have the best preparation in the form of a bottle of wine the night before leaving me feel more than a little bit ropey the following morning but I knew the fresh air would help clear my head. However, on the drive over to where I was meeting the poor soul who agreed to accompany me on my first ever open water adventure (let alone a choppy sea one), my stomach was suggesting that this was maybe not the smartest idea I’d ever had.

The chat down to Stokes Bay took my mind off the hungover stomach feeling and by the time we actually got in the water I was feeling a lot better. I was warned it would be cold…9 degrees apparently…but I was quite surprised at how warm I felt in the wetsuit although the water seeping inside it was an interesting experience but not quite as amusing as when I stood up and walked out with it trickling down my legs!

I was advised to breath towards the shore but that would mean breathing to the side I have trouble with at the best of times in the pool so decided to ignore this advice and go for what I thought would best stop me from drowning.

We swam down to the point that we agreed to turn back which was with the current so it would be fair to say I did little swimming in this direction. I think we covered about 750m in total and due to keeping on stopping on the way out, I am sure I actually swam more on the way back against the current even though we got out and walked over half the distance back!

I would like to say this was because I was getting used to being in open water for the first time on the way out but if I am totally honest it was more down to ignoring the breathing advice and keeping on getting a mouthful of water from the waves. This doesn’t taste good at the best of times, let alone mixed with an unsettled stomach from too much wine the night before and stopping was all I could do to stop myself gagging and being sick! Sea water is really not advisable on a hangover!

But despite this, I got the hang of swimming on the way back due to being able to breath towards the shore and my rest periods were broken up with much more actual swimming. It was tiring against the current though, it was definitely becoming more choppy and I started getting a bit of cramp in my foot (most probably dehydration) so we decided to call it a day and walk the rest of the way back.

When I was back on land I just couldn’t stop smiling! It was an awesome feeling getting out of the water that early in the morning and although I felt exhausted, I was on such a high.

Then the fun really began! Lets just say you should always go open water swimming with someone you know pretty well…aside from having to completely trust them to look out for you if you were to get into trouble, the moves you have to do to get in and out of a wetsuit are not ones you would want to do with anyone you are not that comfortable with!!

Until now I had not really been a big fan of swimming, it was just something I was made to do as a kid and again now something I have to do if I want to do a triathlon but I came away from this experience not being able to decide which is my favourite discipline and I think that is a pretty good place to be right now.