Precautions To Take When Swimming In Open Waters

Posted on September 4, 2013

Pools may be the safest choice for those that want to get some swimming exercise in, but there are those who want to get a little more from their workout.  Just like some runners may prefer jogging to the tedium of a treadmill, so too might some swimmers like to get out in the open water rather than stick to the pool.

If you ever decide that you’d like to exercise in a body of open water, then there are certain hazards you must be aware of and precautions you can take to ensure safety.  A new report from United States Masters Swimming relates some of those steps.

The first thing you must do is realize that the open water is very different from a swimming pool.  Lifeguards typically won’t be around to offer assistance, inclement weather can endanger your wellbeing, and debris might block your path or otherwise imperil your safety.

You can protect yourself from these hazards and more by preparing before you get into the water.  Know the type of water you’re swimming in and whether or not swimming is even allowed in that area.  If there’s heavy boat traffic, for instance, then it might be wise to swim elsewhere.  Maybe you’re swimming in a section of the state where the water itself is unsafe due to chemical runoff or some other type of environmental threat.  Conduct thorough research online so that you know you’re swimming in an area set up for such a thing.

Because there likely won’t be lifeguards around, it’s imperative that you have someone with you who can watch your back while you simultaneously watch out for them.  That way, if an emergency does present itself, he or she will be able to take action immediately and call the necessary officials to offer rescue assistance.

When you’re on the open water, you also have to worry about the current in a way that you don’t necessarily have to while in a pool.  You may think you’re on the right path or that you’ll be able to make it to a certain point going at a leisurely pace only to find that you’ve been thrust into a current that has other ideas.

If a current does catch you in its midst, then the most important thing to do is not panic.  If you’re in the open water, you’re hopefully already a strong swimmer, and you should trust in your abilities.  Start to swim sidelong through the current itself until you can extricate yourself from its pull.  When you’re away from the current, you can then begin your jaunt back to shore.

At all times, check your progress at regular intervals so that you know you’re headed in the right direction and being pulled toward safety rather than away.  Adjust appropriately to have the safest trip possible.

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