Staying safe in the water
Improve your swimming fitness with these swim-safer tips from Swim For Tri coach Dan Bullock.
Every swimming pool operator in the country is legally bound to have in place all the health and safety measures to ensure that people can swim as safely as possible. ‘Pools are incredibly safe places to train so long as you adhere to the rules and regulations, so take the time to familiarise yourself with them whenever you train at a new venue, and make sure you are aware of where all the emergency exits are located in the unlikely event of a facility evacuation,’ says triathlon coach Dan Bullock.
‘Goggles are now an essential item in all swimmers’ kitbags when training in communal pools and I’d recommend you invest in a decent, water-tight pair so you can always see where you are going, and to prevent sore eyes from the pool’s chemicals, especially if you are training in the water a lot.’
More UK lakes are now being opened up for swimmers and lakes are not only fantastic to swim in, but they also serve as a great development stage between the pool and the ocean. ‘Lakes are great for longer-distance training sessions where you can work on better breathing techniques and stroke improvement work, and they also double as fantastic practice for open-water races,’ says Bullock.
‘Most business-run swimming lakes have kayak patrols and buoys and markers for quick sighters to establish your location. You can often hire wet suits because the water can be very cold, and always wear a brightly-coloured swim cap so you’re easily spotted, even in rough conditions.’
Swimming in the ocean can be an adventure in itself and doing some training sessions in the sea can break the monotony of the pool where you have to turn every 25m or 50m. ‘A lot of races and events are now held in the ocean so you need to get used to swimming in the sea to prepare for the conditions that are very different to the pool, such as the cold, the wind, and the rough, choppy waters,’ says Bullock.
‘It’s also very hard to know where you are without the lanes of the pool, or buoys in a lake, so you need to establish some landmarks or “sighters” so you always know where you are. When doing training swims in the sea always stay parallel to the shore and do extensive research first about the potential hazards, such as riptides. It almost goes without saying but never take risks with ocean swimming: don’t go in alone and always tell people where you are. And If a red flag is flying don’t go in the water even if you’re a strong swimmer. It’s simply not worth the risk.’
Dan Bullock is a former Team GB triathlete and head coach at Swim For Tri coaching .