How Eco-Tourists Can Stay Safe While Wild Swimming
How safe can wild swimming in the Great Outdoors be? While 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by natural bodies of water such as oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers, among others, much of it has become highly polluted, according to the United States Geological Survey. If you want to enjoy open swimming, then it’s important to avoid potential contaminants, such as toxic chemicals in sewage. Swimming in such dirty water can cause a wide range of health issues including skin rashes known as swimmers’ itch, stomach cramps, and vomiting. Slippery rocks, thick weeds, and strong currents can also present dangers while swimming in open water. Fortunately, you can take some safety precautions to make wild swimming as safe as possible. The following tips and tricks can help you enjoy natural water swimming and stay safe from natural and human-made hazards.
Train with an experienced guide
Learning from a wild swimming expert can provide several benefits, and they can teach you the do’s and don’ts of open-water outdoor swimming. This can include key swimming techniques, and other things like what to eat before you take a dip. It’s important to release enough sugars to boost your energy levels, while not triggering a racing heart or a possible panic attack.
The coach can also provide a confidence boost. They can help you get amped up before swimming, while preventing frustration about being a beginner swimmer in natural waters. An experienced guide can also provide support by telling you what you’re doing well, and any adjustments you need to make. The old saying “there’s safety in numbers” also applies when wild swimming, and particularly if you’re a newbie.
Wear a wetsuit and limit exposure to cold water
Wearing the right swimwear can help to avoid common causes of drowning. Your swimming gear can keep you warm, protect your skin, and promote faster swimming. If you’re serious about wild swimming, you should certainly consider investing in a wetsuit with at least a 3mm thickness. Make sure to consider various factors when selecting a wetsuit for wild swimming. These include type, so decide whether you want a full wetsuit, long johns, or shorts. You should also consider the thickness and construction, size, and accessories such as boots, gloves, or a hood. Some swimming venues rent out wetsuits so you can try a particular brand before shelling out money.
Even if you’re wearing a wetsuit, it’s recommended that you only swim in cold water for a maximum of 40 minutes when training. It’s also recommended to start with 20 minutes of swimming during your first session to see how you feel. Keep in mind that hypothermia is a major health risk when swimming because the human body loses heat 30 times faster while in water, and it sets in faster in cold water.
Make sure not to rush when walking into the water. You should trust your sixth sense if water looks, smells, or feels very contaminated. In addition, walk on wet rocks slowly since they can be quite slippery. Make sure to stay calm if your legs get tangled up in thick seagrass since it could be startling and cause you to lose your balance. After you start swimming, don’t try to swim too fast or too far, and especially in cold waters, since it can drain your energy. This can make it tougher to return to the shore safely. One option is to swim parallel to the water’s edge.
If you’re looking for a new outdoor adventure, then open water swimming can be a good option for you. It’s important to get the right training, stay warm, and avoid swimming too fast or far. Taking the right precautions can make one of the oldest outdoor activities as fresh as a mountain stream.