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Open H2O Swimming: Managing the Risk

Sea Urchin

Having just completed a month of nothing but open water swimming the topic is fresh in my mind. There are plenty of hazards out there; the obvious such as jellyfish, hypothermia, sharks, sea urchins, currents and tides, boats and jet ski traffic, pollution, wind and waves.

The worse possible scenario is swimming alone in open water with no boat escort, in a location you have never swam in before, with no knowledge of tides, weather or local hazards. If you do this you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk. It only takes a short amount of time to mitigate risk and ensure a safe and far more enjoyable swim.

Take your time and do some research before embarking on a swim. Some good places to start your research in the UK are our terrific new monthly H2Open Magazine, the website http://www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com  or the book Wild Swim by Kate Rew. For a safe guided swim adventure you cannot go past www.SwimTrek.com. Otherwise find a ‘local’ and ask them about local hazards, swim with them first if at all possible. My recommendation is to always swim with a buddy. Ideally join a local swim group or encourage friends to get involved. Contrary to what many people believe swimming is such a terrific social activity.

Think of the obvious hazards such as keeping an eye out for broken pieces of glass on the shore line or the not so obvious, I once started a lovely open water swim only to have a fleet of yacht’s appear from around the corner!

All of these hazards and other possibilities need be considered and mitigated before taking to the water – if there is any doubt don’t go out! Safe swimming, Dan

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