8 Top Tips for Planning a Sea Swim
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"Well Coralie, if you can do this then you can get out and do anything".
No matter your ability, whether you have been swimming for years or getting in to do it for the first time, planning ahead of your sea swim is very important. So here are our tips to try help you plan your sea swims wherever you are.
1. Reading the water.
The tips after this include reading up on apps to see the nature of the water and elements etc that day but remember that these are not always accurate and often being down at the water's edge can be really telling of the conditions.
Do not always go with what you read.
Biggest tip is, if you have any doubts to whether you should be going in then don't go! You would be better safer than sorry. Something to bare in mind is that the water can be very deceiving.
It may look fine and actually be dangerous for various reasons. On the other hand, it could look horrendous but is then fine and a lot of fun.
2. Check the weather and sea conditions
There is no point heading out if the weather and sea in a storm. Make sure to look online to see what the weather says. Sometimes it isn't always accurate, but it at least allows you to be a bit more prepared with what you need to take and plan where to go.
Although can take a lot of time to understand these apps, it is important to know how to read them. If you can familiarise yourself with them and can read the information given to you then it can be very helpful.
The met office is usually the most accurate for the weather and Magic seaweed is a great one for the water. Although it is a surfing app, it has a lot of useful information.
Checking the tides.
Everyday there is a low and high tide. You will notice that it also changes each day and also throughout the year. The tides are usually about 6 hours each time and the tidal current is normally parallel to the shore (not just simply in or out).
A lot of beaches around the UK are very dangerous when the tide is in because the water comes right up to walls and crashes against them. You do not want to be pushed into anything as it can be very dangerous.
Ideally you would like to be swimming when the tide is further out and not getting to this stage. Try to make sure to have a look at the tides and make sure not to be swimming at least 2 hours either side of the tide coming in to be on the safe side.
Interestingly, the speed of the current is usually at its slowest just before the tide turns which we call slack tide, and it will move the fastest whilst it is in its third and fourth hours. You can normally access the tide times online very far in advance so have a look and make sure to give yourself plenty time to swim and get changed etc.
Know the local knowledge.
Even if you are from the area, you are about to swim in but haven't been swimming there, you will soon realise that there is a lot to learn about the water and surroundings there.
I would suggest speaking to the locals, local swimmers or water sports, fishermen and even visit the beaches at low tide to see if there are rocks, boats, posts or anything dangerous or worth knowing about it.
The more you know, the better chance you have at being able to relax yet be able to make better decisions if there was something that didn't go according to plan.
Check the wind/waves.
Just because it is windy, it doesn't necessarily mean that are going to be big waves. It is however more common than not.
What is also worth knowing is that if you head outside and there is very little wind, the waves could be huge so head to Magicseaweed to have a look at the waves and how high they are expected to be.
Many people struggle when it is wavey because it can be easier to swallow water, not be able to see other people or sight objects whilst you are swimming to a destination and maybe people panic when it is wavey so make sure to go easy and not push yourself into it.
Many people really enjoy the waves as it can be a lot of fun to play in them and for the challenge, and it is no issue, but it is better to be careful. Make sure to always know your exit point before you go in. A tip is to lay something bright and colourful so that you can hopefully see it if there are lots of waves as sighting may be difficult in these conditions.
If it is windy make sure it is nothing that could blow away and that the rest of your warm clothes are in a drybag so they don't get wet if it rains.
6. Get your gear ready
Especially in the winter, you are going to find that when you come out of the water, the last thing you want to be doing is searching around for your kit or even worse still, realising you don't have it.
I would suggest having a check list of your kit you would usually bring that you can sort through before and after.
I would recommend: -
- Toweling robe.
- Changing robe.
- Warm gloves.
- Fluffy socks.
- Easy to get on shoes.
- Hot drink in a flask.
- Hot water bottle.
- Snacks to have afterwards.
7. Bring a friend.
The last thing you want to do, especially if it is your first time is to go alone. I would always recommend having people with you even if you are an experienced swimmer because you never know what would happen out there.
If you have a friend that knows the area and water than that is even better. Have a discussion before you head out and a plan of how long/far you are going to go and where you are going to exit and do afterwards.
Discuss where your dry clothes are and how you are going to heat up and get home afterwards. Maybe talk about getting into a car and putting the heating up to get warm and having some tea and cake.
8. Get some indoor coaching.
I would suggest speaking to a swimming coach who can have a look at your swimming technique in the water ideally in a swimming pool first.
This is a safer environment so that you can have the confidence of what to do if you panic but also to see how you could improve your stroke so that you are not only more efficient but safer in the water.
And as always, HAVE FUN!
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"Not only do Seashell make waterproof changing robes, but they also have their own community. Seashell practice what they preach and put their products to good use in wild swimming and fitness community events up in Scotland."
Thank you very much for reading our blog post. We hope it has inspired you to go and explore into the wild.
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