No turning back

Madison has now entered two Open Water competitions this season. The London Region Open Water in Surrey Quays and the South East Region in Chichester.

The main difference between Open Water and pool swimming is the fact that there are actually no turns. You swim continuously around some buoys in circles.

There are some videos on YouTube to start your own open water journey. We won’t be swimming by ourselves. A Wikipedia article gives some more overview over the possibilities.

We will be taking part in strictly organised competitions, whereby each swimmer gets numbers written on their body and hat, so that they are always under control and cannot get lost.

Salford Quays- Swim Start 5274.JPG
By Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent. – I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license:, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

We will also be swimming in unsalted water e.g. lakes. You do not need a full body suit if the water temperature doesn’t fall below 16 degrees. However I do think that a pre-pool warmup is going to help in any case. And as it is summer, the lakes shouldn’t be too cold, they are also not very deep compared to open sea swimming.

For younger swimmers the distance should not exceed 3km or three laps of a set course around some buoys, which are arranged in a circle or square.

However, the skill is to learn to do this without relying on the regular turns pool swimmers are used to in 25m or 50m pools. That is going to be the most beneficial skills learned from this I think. Looking at swimmers’ Best Time profiles, they mostly find it easiest to get faster times in 25m pools because there are the most turns but in open water there are no turns. This helps with endurance and strengthens the body.

Did you know that all swimmers have to have their toe and finger nails trimmed, apparently that helps prevent damaging each other. In pool swimming each swimmer has their own lane but in open water swimming, there is often a scramble and short nails help prevent scratching injuries.