Spring is here and summer isn’t far away which means one thing – ocean swimming season is here.
With the change of season and warm weather rolling in, many swimmers start switching their focus from swimming laps up and down the black line in the pool to swimming in the refreshing saltwater of the ocean.
Every year around this time of year ocean swim events start filling up the weekends along the coastline of Australia.
Thousands of ocean swimmers from the experienced ocean swimmer to first-time ocean swimmers put their foot on the start line ready to dive into the ocean.
Here are my top tips on how to prepare for your first ocean swim.
1. Build your swim fitness
When deciding to undertake your first ocean swim it is important that you are confident in your swimming abilities and you build a strong swim fitness ability.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the ocean, you can join a swim squad with a coach and get technique help while building your swim fitness or you can follow a self-guided training program and train when it suits you and your lifestyle.
Building your swim fitness is important because the ocean is an unpredictable place with swell, rips, waves and currents pulling you all over the place but if you have good swim fitness you will finish your first ocean swim successfully.
2. Gain confidence in the ocean
The ocean can be a scary place for some swimmers with swells, rips and marine creatures all around you but gaining confidence in the ocean before you put your foot on the start line for your first ocean swim is important.
In the weeks leading up to your first ocean swim ensure you are swimming in the ocean regularly and learning how to deal with the different conditions the ocean has to offer; waves, rips, wind, varying temperature, depth and marine creatures.
If you are comfortable in the ocean and its elements it will make your first ocean swim easier and much more enjoyable.
3. Ask a friend to swim with you
If you are feeling a bit nervous or uncomfortable in doing your first ocean swim that is completely normal. We have all been there at some point in our ocean swimming experience.
To take the edge off your nerves, ask a friend to do it with you. This will make you feel more comfortable having someone to swim with during the duration of the swim.
The best part of getting a friend to complete your first ocean swim with is that you will have a training buddy in the weeks leading up to the swim.
4. Use a swim aid
If you are used to swimming with a swim aid such as fins, snorkel or even a pull buoy during your training in the ocean or the pool then swim with it in your first ocean swim.
Most ocean swims these days allow you to swim with the use of swim aids to allow you that extra level of comfort during your ocean swim that you are used to during training.
If you do choose to swim with a swim aid most ocean swims will make you start at the back of the pack and, unfortunately, you won’t be eligible for prizes.
5. Make sure you have the right equipment
Preparing the right equipment before your swim is simple but very important to ensure you have a great first ocean swim.
Start by making sure that you have a swimsuit that doesn’t chafe and goggles that don’t leak. Our tip is to try these out in training in the weeks prior to your first ocean swim event to make sure you’re ready to go come the day of your ocean swim.
You might also like to take a look at the weather and water temperature beforehand to decide if you need a wetsuit or not.
6. Position yourself comfortably at the start
Make sure you position yourself correctly at the start of the race.
Any ocean swimmer knows that the start of an ocean swim can be chaotic between the pushing and shoving while running into the water and then the waves crashing on top of you. This can be quite off-putting for first-time ocean swimmers and ruin your first ocean swim experience if you let it get to you.
Our advice would be to stand towards the back of the group on the start line, to the side or wait for a few seconds when the start gun goes off to avoid the chaos entering the water.
If you do this you won’t have to battle the chaos and can start your first ocean swim feeling calm and comfortable entering the water at your own pace.
If you want to gain more confidence in the ocean and prepare for your ocean swim be sure to sign up for OceanFit’s Learn to Ocean Swim Clinic here.