"Life is filled with certain obligations and responsibilitites, but none more basic, primal or important that the responsibilities we have to ourselves and each other"
Having respect and understanding for the water and our summer "swimming pool" where we all spend our days is vital for our safety.
A swimming pool has rules, no jumping, no diving in the shallow end and no running poolside-all these rules are there for your safety-lifeguards are there to watch you.
I have lived my entire life near the sea-from a very young age-we were given RULES of where to swim and where not to go.
Starting with Irish Water Safety Association from the age of 6 onwards to courses in survival and safety where we learned to undress and rescue in the sea-we learned to be able to tow each other to shore. What a skill to learn as a child. Adults should do drills with their children on how to manage an emergency at the beach or remote.
As children we lived our lives on the beach from morning to night-we always always told where to swim and where not to swim, to stay in groups, to make sure someone watching-even though we were very young I remember knowing when and how the water acted and reacted.
Despite having taken on some of the greatest challenges in Open Water including the Round Ireland Relay and the Bering Strait Relay-I hold the greatest of respect for the sea. As a swimmer before you get into the water-we have a responsibility to ourselves and those we swim with and the crews and teams we work with to be the best we can be.
|The Blasket Sound-the water here is the most confused water|
Water around the Islands of Ireland in the summer ave 12-14deg-Which in itself is quite cold. When the air is warm the sea is warmer close to shore and when the air is cold, the rocks are cold, the sand is cold and then the water is cold. Swimming on the tides as it covers hot sand is warmer then cold sand. Swimming near to hot rocks is warmer than in the middle of deep water.
The depth of the water and the speed of the water can cause a drop of a degree plus so a swimmer can be nice and toasty close to shore but when you swim and the depth increases in channels or bays the water drops and this can be uncomfortable and cause stress.
If an area is tidal than you need to have a tide book-or a tide app on your phone. Each year I am reminded that many swimmers do not swim with tide books and many swimmers have never had the reason to understand that water outside an island, approaching a pier or the mouth of a bay or inside a body of rock can react and act so very differently to that inside a protected location like a shallow beach.
For those swimmers I would say, imagine yourself tucked into the lee or the protection of the wind and then remind yourself what it feels like when you expose yourself to the force. Such is the power of the water.
Swimming in Cold Water is not just about the distance you swim-it is about self managing the time it may take you to finish and knowing yourself as a swimmer. Know what you're capable of.
Tidal Influence can effect change on:
- The distance you can swim
- The time you spend in the water
- The effort is takes to swim the distance.
Match your route with your energy reserves and your ability. Be aware of engines and boats near you.
Be responsible with visibility-if you are going into areas with boats.
If you want to swim 2km and it normally takes you 40 mins-than an hour is a long time to spend if you don't have the reserves.
- Can you keep a line of orientation when you don't have sight of the shore?
- Do you breathe away from the coast?
- Can you breathe with waves hitting into your face if you only breathe one side ?
- Can you stay calm on the return leg of the swim if conditions change?
- Lot of variables on that level to think about.
Sometimes you can’t exit a cliff face.
If you are a swimmer who swims by time-30 mins max-remind yourself that the 30 mins in a pool may not equal the same distance covered in the sea. make your route match your ability and the conditions. If it takes you 20 mins extra to cover 2km in tough conditions -have you the extra 20 mins in your reserve.
Can you keep a line of sight when you don't have sight of the shore?
Do you breathe away from the coast?
Can you breathe with waves?
When you arrive at a new beach-before you get in... find out where you can get out of the water-I have seen swimmers jump off rocks BUT they do not have a plan to get out?
- Location is vital to understand- one of the major thoughts I would think is that regionally the names of lakes can differ from that of it's official names for rescue services -know where you are.
- If you plan an adventure -know the GPS co ordinates for the location in the unlikely event of conditions changing.
- Do NOT swim into the centre of lakes in remote conditions -if you have fog likely to drop. Exiting the centre of a lake in foggy conditions is near impossible.
- Check if you have phone coverage.
- Always the check weather forecast
- Always understand the tides and the time of the tides.
- Every 2 weeks there are spring tides, these tides are fast and strong.
- Familiarise yourself to the location and-ask local knowledge always taking your own experience into account. -remember the lakes/beaches may not have names that are recognisable to others.
- Check if you have phone coverage at location-crucial
- if training in a remote location take a GPS coordinate
- If training alone-always phone a friend giving them your entry and exit time-
- Remember to phone to confirm when you are out of the water.
- Swim parallel to the shore and ensure you have an exit plan.
- Swimming in cold water only requires you to be in water deep enough to stand up in-you do not need to challenge your capabilities beyond that.
- Check if it is tidal, flows, currents and rips.
- Ensure you have shore visual at all times and your exit point in visual at all time.
- Have sugar in the car-fueling the recovery.