natation eau libre en mer

Swim in the open water

For inside or heated pool fans who are keen to discover new aquatic sensations, the open water might just be THE answer!
 

Open water swimming, as its name suggests, is an outdoor sport. Mountain lakes, seas or rivers, the open water offers diversity that is impossible to find in a swimming pool. This sport could be ideal for anyone who wants to break away from the monotony of pool training.

 

A sport of thrills:
 

Open water swimming is a sport that is practised in a natural environment and generally involves swimming long distances ranging from one to dozens of kilometres. It has been an Olympic sport since the 2008 Olympic games. However the 10 km is the only event to have been included in the Olympic programme.
 

As you can see, the open water requires endurance, but also tactics. It is really important to understand how to manage your exertion so that you don't give in after the first few metres. You should also know that being able to touch the bottom isn't a given and you are not doing laps like in a swimming pool which makes the exercise more difficult as there is no way to take a break in natural waters.
 

In addition to pacing yourself, the wind, cold, waves and current are important factors to be taken into account. The weather forecast therefore plays a key role in the way you approach your session.
 

nage libre en mer

 

Multiple benefits:

 

Swimming is a full-body workout, a source of benefits for the body, the mind and for overall health. This is particularly true for outdoor swimming.
 

As a matter of fact, cold water contributes to the activation of blood circulation and strengthens the immune system. Its temperature can also have a numbing effect which provides pain relief.
 

When swimming in the sea, the advantages are greater still. Sea water is known for its antidepressant, anti-anxiety and mood enhancing properties. Moreover, salt water helps to decongest the airways.
Incidentally, according to numerous studies, sea swimmers are supposedly happier than the other people questioned.
 

Lastly, open water swimming allows the body to work more muscle groups than in a swimming pool due to the currents, trying to find your footing and the need to lift your head to breathe (neck, inner hip muscles, lower back).

 

Safety first:

 

Despite all of the benefits that "outdoor" swimming can provide, there are a few precautions that should be taken before going for your first dip in natural waters.

Even if you want to swim in peace, opt for bodies of water that are supervised and only swim when the water is calm. Be careful of bad weather!

Cold water puts stress on the body. If you enter the water too quickly and without thinking, you may run increased cardiovascular risks and hypothermia may set in.

Be sure to define a distance between two points which will act as a boundary for you, and swim along the shore, never out towards the open sea.

Avoid the hours when the sun is strongest and use sun cream. Beware also of dehydration and cramps.

 

Equipment for open water swimming:

 

As with "indoor" swimming, the open water is accessible to all. Equipment is therefore very similar to that required for a swimming pool.

Consequently, a swimsuit, swimming goggles and a swim cap will be required.
It may also be useful to apply milking grease to prevent possible irritations due to the sun and to protect you from the cold.

You could consider a neoprene wetsuit to create a thermal barrier against the cold, but it will only be permitted for training and under no circumstances for competitions. This, of course, also applies to fins and paddles which are all training equipment.

Advantages, safety, equipment... You’re now ready to take on the elements!
 

équipement entraînement natation

 

Take the challenge(s):

 

Here are a few open water events coming up in France in 2016:

 

Saturday 3 September: Le Havre-Sainte Adresse (sea). 1500 metre event with or without fins.

Sunday 11 September: Osez Hostens [Dare to take on Hostens] (lake). 500, 1000, 1500 or 3000 metre event.

Sunday 17 July: Lac de Passy crossing (lake). 600 to 2000 metre event.

Sunday 4 September: Travers’Hyeres [Hyeres crossing] (sea). 500, 1500, 3000, 5500 metre event with or without fins.

Monday 15 August: Swim across Saint Jean de Luz bay. 1800 metre event in the company of the whole NABAIJI team!

 

Régis
National Swimmer & Dialogue Leader
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