So you’ve started swimming in open water, you may have done an event or some local swims and you’ve caught the open water bug (Yeay!); now you probably want to graduate from your ‘old’ sailing or surfing wetsuit into something more helpful. Here’s some timely advice.
The basics to get you in the water are a good swim hat and goggles and of course a swim suit.
Get a hat Silicon swim cap, they are thicker and keep your head warmer. If your cap keeps slipping of your head it may be time to get a new one, one that isn’t so stretched out. Avoid hair conditioner for the same reason if your hat keeps slipping off.
Swimming goggles come in various shapes and sizes, find one to suit your head shape and ensure the strap is properly adjusted. Tinted goggles are a plus outdoors as the reflect or reduce the glare of the sun. Get goggles with an anti-fog coating, use an anti-fog product or spit on it! It reduces the amount of ‘faff’ time in the water.
Unless you plan to run around to get dry take a towel, quick drying towels are good and if you want to preserve your modesty grab one of the hooded changing towels, Cool!.
Wetsuits designed for open water swimming are different to your sailing or surfing wetsuits. Swimming wetsuits are made from soft flexible neoprene which is less dense, they provide extra buoyancy and warmth. Good wetsuits are super soft, flexible and have extra buoyant panels, they feel like a second skin and can actually add to your experience of outdoor swimming. The soft neoprene is more delicate so take extra care of your swimming wetsuit.
Get a good quality swimming wetsuit and ensure you get a good close fit.
Neoprene boots are useful in the colder months and to boost confidence when beginning to swim in open water. Neoprene Swim Gloves also provide added warmth and some with webbed fingers can be used for resistance training to help build strength in your pull.
A neoprene swim hat is a worth while investment for training in colder months , providing extra warmth and comfort. The chin strap helps keep your ears and cheeks warm too. Couple the neoprene hat with a mask-type goggle in cold water and you’re off to a winner.
Chaffing can occur from your wetsuit and body bits and are more likely in salt water swims. Salt rubs! Areas at risk include armpit, inner thigh, neck and chest. If your wearing a wetsuit watch out for the zip at the back of the neck, this can rub, ensure the closure is pulled completely over the Velcro. To help relieve chaffing use an anti-chafe balm.
If neck chafing is a real problem or you doing long distance swims, sewing a small piece of chamois cloth between the zip and the skin can help, as will wearing a Buff around the neck.
Neoprene repair glue such as Black Witch is a quick drying adhesive which is designed for repairing minor nicks and tears in your wetsuit and helps prolong the life of your wetsuit. Keep some in your bag.
Keep yourself hydrated and energised by keeping some food and drinking water to hand in training sessions, you are working out after all.
Don’t forget the sun block for your sunnier swims 🙂