Open water swimming in the time of COVID-19

At the moment, most gyms and public swimming pools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many triathletes without a way to train. During these two months of confinement, some have been very creative at home and have managed to train in small children’s pools, but it is not the same. At the moment, it makes sense that many are questioning the feasibility of donning a wetsuit and diving into the sea, but is it really a good idea to go swimming class and for lifeguard class in open water during swimming coronavirus time?

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Jumping into open water to exercise under any circumstances depends on the conditions that arise. With this current global pandemic, there are many dynamic factors to consider when training in open water during the coronavirus. The truth is that the Government of Spain allows the training of swimmers on the beaches under a series of conditions. Entering the water with a hat, a buoy, and keeping a safe distance are some of them. The use of public showers, leaving any material on the beach sand, or the exchange of swimming material between swimmers is also not allowed.

Except for professional or federated athletes who can prove their activity, it is not allowed to use any transport vehicle or public transport to travel to the beaches.

However, if your beach is open to the public, we advise you not to rush into high-intensity exercise just yet. We advise you to go swimming to feel again what you felt a couple of months ago. Of course, it is not advisable to start doing high-intensity workouts. Preparation and practice are the main components to avoiding injury when swimming in open water. For this reason, we teach you a series of tips that you can carry out before starting to train more intensely so that you return to the form you had before.

Take the opportunity to do strength exercises

If you have not swum in the last two months of confinement, you should be aware that you are not fit to swim. It is essential to start slowly, build strength again, and practice techniques that protect your shoulders and upper back from injury. Physical preparation for open water swimming should include exercises on dry land to strengthen all your muscles before beginning a high-intensity open water swim. This will also help you maintain a correct and balanced body position while flowing in the water.

Get acclimatized to the water

Being allowed back into the water is a perfect time to rebuild your tolerance for cold water. It is advisable to start with a one or two-minute immersion in cold water, gradually increasing the duration as your body adjusts. These baths are also a good time to review the warning signs of hypothermia: Loss of sensation in the extremities, clawed hands, hyperventilation, chest tightness, disorientation, and loss of alertness and memory. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, get out of the water.

Don’t forget your gear.

Although the temperatures do not stop rising, the water in the month of May is still very cold. For this reason, you will need to wear your open water swimsuit.

In addition to a wetsuit and protective swimming goggles, you should bring a brightly colored swimming cap that you can be seen with and a safety buoy. These are the two swimming accessories that you cannot miss on your return to the open waters.

Give priority to training your skills

When your time comes to train at sea, you won’t be able to know how far you can swim. Therefore, do not focus on the distance but instead on training the rest of the basic skills of open water swimming. Breathe in a smooth, rhythmic inhale and a calm exhale; breathe on both sides in response to the waves; sight early and often; and develop a sensation of water (fist and skull exercises are excellent for practicing in open water).

For your first workout, plan for a duration that is about 20 to 25 percent of the time you used to swim before the pandemic. The time frame is due to immobility during the last two months and the inefficiency of a rusty stroke technique.

Extends the reach of the swim progressively

At this time, we are not sure that you can go deep into the sea. In the event that you have a certain limit, you must know that complete scope, as well as the water temperature, the weather conditions, the typical water currents, among other safety considerations implemented by the circumstances of the pandemic.

Identify a safe course of 25-100 meters to start, which you can use to swim laps until you are ready to swim further. Walk along the water’s edge for a couple of minutes to identify possible obstructions. Identify areas where you can safely and easily get out of the water, write down the landmarks you are going to use to see those exit points, and memorize them. Although you must remember that these exit points look different from the water.

When in doubt, keep training at home

Enthusiasm should never prevail over common sense. If you have doubts as to whether it is safe to return to training at this time, it is not bad to wait a bit. If you are not sure of the water conditions or your current physical condition, do not worry, you can take advantage of the day to re-acclimatize to the cold water. Taking a dip in cold, shallow waters again is a sure way for your body to regain sensations. But, as we’ve said before if you feel like it’s not the day to go back to open water training, you don’t have to. You can continue strength training at home to maintain shape.

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