Adventures in Swimming… Pool vs Open Water

It’s no secret I love swimming. I love swimming everywhere. Maybe a little less I the sea, but I still would swim there.  A lot of people I know love on or the other. Usually they swim in a pool and thought of open water is a big no.

Not with me. I like swimming in the pool and I like swimming in open water.  I just think of them as very different styles of swimming. Essentially the same activity, but different techniques and attitudes are required.

For me it depends what I fancy doing. In the lake I get in for a long steady swim. In the pool I get in to do a mix of strokes and a mix of speed. It’s only recently I’ve been doing drills and speed work in the lake. It also depends on how social I want to be. There are times when I just want to swim and be internal for a while.

I’ve always thought of swimming as an ‘alone’ type sport. You don’t need anyone else with you to go to the pool for example. However it is also a big part of my social life, but again the pool and lake are very different. In the pool you might stop and chat after a set or a section of the program, whereas in the lake you might not chat until after your swim.

I am also someone though who can’t just get in for a dip. It has to be worth it for me to get in. I rarely do less than a mile or 30 minutes, whether that is in the lake or the pool.

There is a huge difference between swimming in a pool and swimming in any kind of open water and confidence in your swimming ability has a lot to do with how successful you are I think. If you spend your whole swim worrying about fish, you won’t enjoy the freedom that comes from having no lanes ropes or walls. However as a sufferer of anxiety for other things I totally get that it is not simple to get over your fears or worries.

If you want to go from the pool to open water the first thing I would recommend is to get help. Don’t go on your own and have someone stay with you for the whole of that first swim. I’ve been the support many a time and it is lovely to see people overcome their initial worries and then enjoy their swims. It’s hard when someone struggles, but being able to provide reassurance and encouragement is also good. If you can take part in a group session that focuses on an introduction to open water. I would also say this is a good thing to do when changing from one kind of open water to a another – for me that would be for going from the lake and into the sea.

Swimming is essentially the same. There are certain things you need to do in open water that will make it much better and I am getting coached on such as sighting and drafting. But to begin with it’s just about enjoying the different experiences you have in different places.

I would hope everyone would give open water swimming a go at least once, and that is more than a dip in the sea on holiday! But I also hope that open water enthusiasts don’t put pool swimming down. Each to their own and as long as everyone is enjoying what they are doing, what does it matter where they are?!

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