A major difference between pool and open water swimming is that in pools you are travelling through clear, uninterrupted water while in open water swimming you are faced with waves and murky vision. Swimmers who have a long glide phase in their stroke tend to be slowed and knocked around by waves in open water. An extended glide typically results in a slower turnover and, therefore, fewer strokes per minute. Momentum, instead, becomes key to open water swimming. The easiest place to start learning open water swimming is to practice first in an inland lake. The water will be less choppy than the ocean. Just remember not to swim where swimming is banned, and don’t swim on your own or without a more experienced swimmer if you are new to it.
One key difference you will notice right away is the water's temperature. Whereas you can turn up to the pool on any day of the year and get the same conditions, the same cannot be said for open water. This means that you need to be prepared with the right gear! First up, you will need to invest in a wetsuit. It is very important that your wetsuit fits your body properly to ensure warmth and comfort. TAS has various styles of wetsuits. The Aquasphere Pursuit may be the perfect beginner wetsuit for you. We also carry the high-end Arena wetsuits in both sleeves and sleeveless. If you decide to borrow a wetsuit from a friend and they are a different body shape to you, you will find it either too tight and restrictive for breathing, or all the extra space will let in lots of cold water, thus making it uncomfortable. Please view the sizing guides before purchasing your wetsuit from us as they are final sale.
Another key difference between pool and open water swimming is the clarity of the water and brightness conditions outside, which means you should invest in a good pair of goggles specifically for open water. Open water and triathlon goggles are much larger than pool goggles so that they provide a larger field of vision; it’s critical to be able to sight while swimming. With their wider and curved lenses open water goggles allow swimmers a more generous field of vision.
Tint matters! It’s nice to look cool and all with the dark and mirrored lenses, but remember that a brightly lit pool provides much better underwater vision compared to the murky and dark open water swimming, especially once your goggles start to lose that anti-fog. Dark-tinted goggles with no anti-fog is bordering on swimming blind. Be on the lookout for UV protection! On sunny days, the glare that crashes across the surface of the water can be difficult to see through, and UV-protection will keep your eyes shielded and your vision manageable in bright conditions.
Now that you’re all geared up with a wetsuit and goggles, consider these other items as they will only help make your open water swimming experience more enjoyable and most importantly, safer! The Aqualung Drybag is a great tool to have to provide you with extra visibility for others around you, and an extra safety device if you need to stop and rest. Do keep in mind that the dry bag is not a lifesaving device. It also functions as a place for you to store your valuables and have them with you as you swim. Speaking of visibility don’t forget a bright coloured cap, the more visible you are the better! If you’re swimming in a cold lake or ocean, and you’re having trouble staying relaxed, we recommend ear plugs and nose clips, they’ll stop the cold water from entering your head and perhaps make your swim more comfortable and enjoyable.