In the north … summer is upon us. In the south you will need dreams of Fun Swims to get you through the winter months. Wherever you are we’ve compiled a little list of ‘cool swim stuff’ that we love and we think you may too:
AloeUp – It’s a sunscreen but it doesn’t feel like it. Any true open water swimmer knows the value of a good sunscreen and the importance getting it on at least 20 minutes prior to swimming. Ever have that feeling like your just putting chemical laced concoction on your skin? Try Aloe Up in the UK or New Zealand . This is a sun screen we actually feel good about putting on our bodies. Its waterproof, doesn’t sting the eyes and the high Aloe content … well your skin feels just great – like you’re moisturising and protecting!
Zoggs Predator Flex Titanium Reactor Goggles – Zoggs latest and greatest in the Predator range. We believe this is the most popular goggle of open water swimmers. It’s design seems to fit the greatest range of face shapes and the unique ‘photochromic lense’ means it’s a goggle for all occasions cloud or sunshine. Available in New Zealand from July 2015.
The Garmin Foreunner 920XT – the latest in this Garmin range. It’s a more ‘wearable’ watch. Not quite a fashion statement but unlike previous models at least you don’t feel like you’re strapping a brick to your wrist! It’s easy to use, has open water swim (GPS feed) or pool (Non GPS inertial measurement) options. A nice clean display screen. Plenty of swim stats for the techs amongst us plus the important basics , distance time and speed. Most important is the massive battery life even while the GPS function is active.
PURE Sport Nutrition – We love the stuff. Why? Its tastes good ! But of course there is a whole lot more ; No nasty aftertaste, natural fruit, no colour or preservatives, no lab made flavours (you can read all of this on their website and it’s all True!). Already available in many places around the globe including the UK and New Zealand . Their electrotlye hydration range is available now. The Endurance Hydration range is available from July 2015. We tested it in January at the Epic Epic swim in Lake Taupo (17.5km) ~ we are pleased this product is now coming to market. If you’ve had stomach upset issues with feeding we recommend you give the PURE range a try.
One of the most regular expressions we use when coaching is “the fastest way to the finish line is a straight line and it is also one of the hardest things to do in the open water. It’s certainly a lot easier to achieve if you can see where you are going” This is going to sound simplistic however, so many get it wrong; an appropriate set of goggles that gives you quality clear vision are a vital component of straight line open water swimming. As part of a normal progression in open water swimming a person will naturally figure out (by advice and trial and error) what the right goggles are for them. If you haven’t yet found the right goggle for you we recommend reviewing the Athletes Goggle Guide. Once you have found the right goggles LOOK AFTER THEM. No matter what the quality and or cost of the goggle you choose as soon as they are scratched they are going to significantly decrease your swim enjoyment and ability to see where you are going. What is going to scratch your goggles? Most common is finger nails when rubbing out the fog (use an anti fog spray instead) or leaving your goggles unprotected in your swim bag. If your goggles come in a case when you purchase them, keep them in your case when not using them. This sounds cheesy but it makes sense … ‘if they are not on your face they are in the case’ . If your favourite goggles don’t come with a case Zoggs manufacture this cool case which you can
purchase on its own for approximately NZD$14 or GBP£7. It’s a small price to pay to ensure your favourite goggles last a good period of time and continue to provide fantastic vision. It’s so simple yet so often over looked … once you have your favourite goggles look after them… … ‘if they are not on your face they are in the case’.
Preparation is key; get your swim technique refined and rehearse it often enough before you hit the open water. In the open water all you want to concentrate on is open water skills and having fun not what your arms and legs are doing.
Swim with others/Buddy up; it’s more fun, you’ll have more confidence and reassurance
Self-talk is everything. If you say it often enough you’ll believe it… “The water is refreshing, invigorating and exciting” versus “The water is freezing and I’m scared”
Do some research or ask a local; measure the distance on a map (Judging distance over water is difficult), check the tides, ask about local hazards.
Be safe be seen; bright swim caps (orange, red, yellow, pink) and a Realswim bag make you more visible to other water users. Boat traffic / other water users are one of the biggest hazards to an open water swimmer.
Protect your heat; The only heat you’ll have when you get in the open water is the heat you take with you. Keep hats and shoes on until the last minute. Don’t stand around letting wind chill cool you down before you get in.
Have the right kit; Goggles that are comfortable and don’t fog, a swim suit or wetsuit that isn’t restrictive and fits correctly, these items can really affect the quality of your swim expereince.
Acclimatise; You will go from vertical in a full gravity environment to horizontal, low gravity and perhaps salt water if in the ocean. The difference in air temperature to water could be in the vicinity of 10 – 15C. Hold yourself back and allow the body to adjust to the new environment. It takes time.
Tell someone where you are going and if in doubt don’t go out; Leave your intentions with a family or friend. Deciding not to swim is perfectly OK. Always er on the side of caution.
Enjoy your swim; Do what makes you happy. Ocean or Lake swimming. Short or long distance. Stopping and enjoying the scenery. Swimming continuously and getting lost in the Zen like moment. Sharing a swim with a group. Find out what gets you most excited about open water swimming.
I have been reading a number negative media posts this week about swimming, specifically the big kahuna of swimming administrators – FINA. Some serious and important questions are being asked about where their priorities lay http://www.swimvortex.com/specials/fina-future/ I care a lot about the outcome of such issues. Also I don’t care at all. Why? Because swimming is swimming. And even if one organisation is influenced more by money than the true spirit of the sport, the true spirit of the sport will continue to live on. What is that spirit? A genuine love of the water, a simple desire to swim and the genuine camaraderie and friendships that are built throughout our global swim fraternity.
Our swim family are global. For me it is my former club mates, my former competitors, college mates. Swimmers in New Zealand, USA, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Slovenia (the list goes on) whom I can count as friends. Whom I can turn up on their doorstep and be met with a friendly smile, a conversation like we last caught up last week not ten years ago. These people are my swim family and an important part of my life. One of the important things about any family is that you are there for each other in times of need. One of our swim family members is in need at this time. I refer to one very cool guy, Jon ‘Split’ Winter. His resume takes some reading ; former NZ Olympic and x3 Commonwealth games swimmer, former World Short Course Relay Champion, Olympic swim coach, and swim club coach for a long time. Jon has always been a positive influence on the kids he coaches and the other athletes of his generation (including myself). He represents to me what swimming is all about, enjoyment, positive, being active, friendships, loyalty, passion and a love for the water.
And right now Jon could do with our help. Like all true champions he is modest about asking for it. I had to inquire about these details. You see Jon’s youngest boy Joesf (4years) has ongoing heart issues. He is currently in Starship Hospital recovering from open heart surgery. Both Jon and his wife Rebekah have to take time off work to look after their family of four kids including their wee man Joesf. It’s a tough time for them. But these are the times I love. When the swim community comes together at its roots and directly supports one of their own. Created by Raumati Swim Club in Wellington is this givealittle page for Jon and his family http://givealittle.co.nz/cause/josefwinter this is how we show that actually the roots of swimming remain strong and true. Let’s show our love of swimming by supporting Jon and his lovely family, one of our important swim family members. Thank you.
The four seasons, they come and they go. We hope for the spring water to warm up. We rejoice when summer heats up the open water. We pray that summer temperatures remain in autumn and we pine as autumnal lows slowly rob the open water of the summer heat.
We at FitandAbel.com swim coaching work with the many different open water groups: triathletes, open water racers, open water enthusiasts, sportive swimmers, neoprene addicts, the open water purest. Some groups overlap extremely well. Some groups remain clear of each other. Regardless of differences … we all have one conversation in common; The water temperature.
How do we get used to the ‘natural’ water temperatures the open water offers? Acclimatisation acclimatisation acclimatisation. If you went overseas for a holiday to a hot humid country from a cold climate and stepped off the plane the heat would hit you. The more days you were there the more comfortable you would become. No we are not saying you should spend days on end in the open water. We are saying you need to get in the open water regularly. You need to get in early in the season and spend a little time, often, and slowly build up the duration in the water.
At FitandAbel.com we like to think we get along well with all the swim groups mentioned above. The most important thing is that swimmers are comfortable in the water . For some that means just a bathing suit. For some that means a wetsuit. For some it may require a skull cap and booties. Frankly, unless you are doing an official open water marathon swim that requires only bathers, cap and goggles to be worn, we don’t care. As long as you are comfortable, swimming and having fun.
One thing we have noticed that has occurred regularly this season was swimmers starting open water training early (good) wearing swim gear they prefer to keep warm (no problem) . Then as the water heats up 1°C or 5° or 10°C they are still wearing exactly the same clothing. Heard of the winter coat theory? If you wear a winter coat and it is warm what are you going to put on when it gets cold? Another winter coat?
It’s the same principle with swimming. If you continue to wear your entire collection of neoprene warm gear as the water temperature heats up you will acclimatise in that swim gear. The worse case scenario is then you travel for an open water swim event (Kiwis read Challenge Wanaka!) and you have to swim in water 10°+Celsius cooler than you have been training in wearing your usual wetsuit cap and booties. What are you going to put on another wetsuit, cap and booties?
One of the reasons folks tell me they swim in a wetsuit all the time is that they enjoy the security a wetsuit provides – yes it is basically a form fitting life jacket. If you learn to swim well without a wetsuit you are going to be better placed to take full advantage of the qualities a wetsuit provides. If you can’t or choose not to try swimming sans wetsuit, your technical issues may continue to be hidden by the wetsuit design, but they can still hinder the swim.
Let’s start in the spring; Early open water swimming. Cooler temperatures. Wear what you need to in order to keep warm, for some that may be an under garment and a wetsuit. The water heats up and you can remove the under garment. The water heats up some more… You can remove the under garment and just swim in a wetsuit. The water heats up even more why not remove the wetsuit and just wear the under garment. The water heats up even and it is time for the speedos. That’s four different levels of swim wear, five if you swim nude. Not that we are advocating that!
Now you’ll be comfortably acclimatised AND if you travel to cooler climates OR when that autumnal feel sneaks up you can put on a wetsuit or an under garment and you’ll appreciate the full effect. We call it layering. It works.
*We’ve been working with our friends at SeventhWave http://www.seventhwave.co.nz/ to develop our preferred non wetsuit middle level garment . Developed by swimmers for swimmers. We call them RealSwim Skins. They’ll be in our online store soon available to folks only in Australia, NZ and the USA (UK availability to follow) . Flick us an e-mail if you’re interested to hear more email@example.com
“The Realswim Race Series creates excitement and adventure through the medium of swimming. It is a community and family orientated event aimed at giving everyone an exciting, affordable and well-structured way to get active in the open water. Family and friends can enjoy a picnic on Corsair Beach while cheering and supporting participants in the RealSwim Race.”
It will be following a very similar format to previous swim series held at Corsair on Wednesday nights with 500m, 1000m, and 2000m races. The 500m race involves one lap of the triangular course, the 1000m race is two laps, and the 2000m is 4 laps of the course. Each distance has a male and female category for individuals. There will also be the exciting addition of the RealSwim TopTeam : A team of 4 can enter the 2000M , their combined 2000M times puts them in the draw for the nightly and series ‘RealSwim Top Team’ prize.
} Race One: 28st January 2015
} Race Two: 4th February 2015
} Race Three: 11th February 2015
} Race Four: 18th February 2015
} Race Five: 25th February 2015
} Race Six: 4 March
|Top Team Series Pass (4 swimmers)||$350 incl. Caps|
|Top Team Single Swim Pass (4 swimmers)||$75 + $5 per Cap|
|Series Swim Pass||$110 incl. Cap|
|Double Swim Pass||$40 + $5 Cap|
|Single Swim Pass||$22 + $5 Cap|
Full details , rules and race entry: http://fitandabel.com/race-series/