Benefits of Open Water Swimming
Swimming is a wonderful sport. A low impact, full body workout that leaves you feeling amazing as soon as you get out. However, whilst swimming pools are great places to practice drills and time trials, they can get quite crowded and can feel somewhat monotonous, following that black line up and down up and down.
Open water swimming on the other hand, is a whole other ball game and it’s something you might want to try. Here are some of the benefits of open water swimming.
Get back to nature
Freedom! Now you may well be thinking of good old William Wallace when you hear the word ‘freedom’, but you don’t have to be a mad athlete to enjoy open water swimming.
A lot of us spend the majority of our time attached to screens, being inundated by constant ads. It’s relentless, it’s tiring, and it’s not what we as humans were born to do! So, get away from the screens and get into the water.
It’s an incredibly freeing, beautiful way to connect (or re-connect) with nature. Yep, deep.
You do you
Being in a pool can be much more stressful than it should be… are you feeling fast today? Or will that guy with the fluorescent budgies, washboard abs and mirrored goggles shout at you to move into the slower lane as he completes his fourth kilometre of the day?
Well, when it comes to open water swimming, there’s none of that, it’s much less competitive. You can swim in your own space and at your own pace, without some half-fish half-human hybrid gnawing at your heels at the end of each length. Do what you came to do -enjoy yourself.
On the colder days, jumping in that body of open water can be a lot less tempting than it was in the peak of summer. Let’s face it, sometimes you really have to force yourself to get in. But how good do you feel afterwards, hey?
It’s good to challenge both your mind and your body every now and then. In this 21st Century we’re accustomed to luxury, rarely going hungry, rarely exposing ourselves to true cold… So, go on, push the boat out a little!
Release that ‘happy hormone’
It’s not just a coincidence that you feel great once you get out of cold water. Exercise in general increases the secretion of dopamine, which is the hormone that basically makes you feel excited, happy, even euphoric. And when exercising in cold water, you get a greater surge in dopamine. So, what’s not to like?!
Of course, there are risks with cold water swimming: first and foremost, you must make sure you know whether the water is safe to swim in. After that, it’s crucial to know how to look for signs of cold-water shock.
You don’t need to worry too much if you’re shivering when you get out the water, this is just your body trying to warm up. But layers are essential. Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, a hat and a hot drink or two afterwards because your body continues to cool down for up to an hour after you get out.
A good mantra to have with open water swimming is to never swim alone. Whilst this is of course for your own safety, it also means that open water swimming is by nature, a very sociable sport. Take a mate with you, meet a mate there, make a new mate or two! Then you can follow the swim with a coffee, a cake and a yarn … can’t argue with that.
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