Open Water Swimming Safety

 December 17, 2013

Try to be on time and don’t jump in the water without telling anyone. On large group swims, we will have a sign-in sheet. Check in with the coach and sign-in sheet and sign-off when you get out. All swimmers will have signed waivers which includes contact and emergency contact information. The coach will give instructions for the day’s swim, go over the conditions, and answer any questions you may have.

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Safety Precautions

During large group swims, we will break up into pace groups of fast, medium, and slow swimmers. Do not be embarrassed to be in the slow or beginner group. We want everyone to have a good safe workout in the best conditions, that means swimming to the appropriate level of challenge.

If you are an experienced swimmer or triathlete who is tired from hard training the day before, you may also choose to swim in the slower group on a particular day. First time bay swimmers will be covered by a pilot and swim as a group. Beginner groups will be no larger than six swimmers. Often we will have a leader in each group. Don’t be surprised if you get picked to be the group leader during a session, especially if you have been swimming with Water World Swim on a regular basis.

You may want to pick another person your speed to swim with, a swimming partner, or bring your friends or sweetheart. If any swimmer becomes uncomfortable, needs a break, or wishes to return to shore, raise your hand and shout to the nearest pilot. Most often another swimmer will return to shore with you if you need.

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Communication

Though the coaches and pilots may check in with you periodically, you are ultimately responsible for your safety and communicating what you need. If you do not feel like swimming, return to shore immediately. Make sure you let one of your fellow swimmers and pilots know you are exiting. When outside still feeling cold and shivering out of control tell anyone around you to lend you more jackets or cover you with clothes.

When waiting for help from an approaching pilot kayak, listen to the pilot for instructions. If you become panicked or tired: relax, float on your back and BREATHE, as this cures 99% of all swimmers' anxieties.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia can creep up on even an experienced swimmer very rapidly. Because our training sessions are less than an hour and shorter in the winter, it is very rare for our swimmers to experience extreme hypothermia. Yet, it is important to recognize the symptoms:

  • Sleepy
  • Tired
  • Too comfortable while swimming
  • Warm sensation
  • Swallowing too much water
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Unable to speak
  • Shivering
  • Very sluggish stroke

If you feel any of these symptoms, the WORST thing to do is PANIC. The heart rushing blood from the core of your body to the extremities can lower your temperature even more. You may lose control of your breathing and get cramped and not be able to swim. Cramping from exhaustion paired with cold can create a dangerous situation.

REMAIN CALM and raise your arm and wait while floating until a kayaker or boat pulls you out of the water. Once you get out, what you want to do is get into dry clothes and indoors immediately. Drink some hot fluids like tea or soup. If it is very severe, you will get first aid and emergency assistance. After swimming in the bay on a regular basis, your body will become acclimated to the temperature and you may find yourself swimming for longer periods of time without any problems.

By following a few important safety precautions, you will have a GREAT TIME swimming in the bay!

mackslogoWater World Swim recommends Mack's Earplugs.

Keeping body temperature stable to prevent hypothermia is the hardest and most dangerous obstacle open-water swimmers face when swimming in colder waters. By sealing out frigid water from the ear canal, swimmers are better able to keep their body temperature up, help prevent swimmer’s ear infections (otitis externa), surfer’s ear (exostosis), and cold water-induced dementia, a debilitating effect that can occur when very cold water enters the ear canal. Mack’s® Pillow Soft® Earplugs and Mack’s® AquaBlock® Ear Plugs provide a very comfortable, waterproof seal which helps prevent these health hazards.

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