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Open Water Swimming Safety First!

Liz Rosen, US Masters Swimming - Friday, June 8, 2012

Hey there open water friends!

As a race director, I feel an obligation to be a safety ambassador in the swimming community, so here's my little public service announcement to begin the 2012 open water season:

  1. BUDDY SYSTEM:  If you want to swim in open water - don't do it alone - no matter how good/healthy/capable you think you are.  Find a buddy.  Find several.
  2. HEAD COUNT:  When you swim with a group, take a quick head count at the start, and again at a meet up spot or the finish.  Make sure you've got everyone who started.  If you're leaving the group early - LET SOMEONE KNOW!
  3. PLAN - COORDINATE:  If you know you can't keep up, or are with a group of different speeds, make a plan! For example, I might be swimming with a bunch of burly dudes and say as we dip our toes in: "I'm probably going to be lagging behind, so I'll keep my eyes open for you, and turn around when you head back this way."  Reason?  Refer back to 1 and 2 above.
  4. 80'S FASHION IS IN:  Wear bright caps.  REALLY BRIGHT - like neon.  Orange, pink, yellow are best.  Green might be, depending on the shade. Red and purple aren't visible in the lake.    Black neoprene definitely isn't.  Etc.  
  5. BE AWARE: We all want a good distance workout, but please, look around occasionally.  Crew shells don't have motors and I'm guessing it would hurt if they hit you.  Boats that do have motors may be quiet enough that you don't hear them until they are way too close.  Enough said.
  6. HYPOTHERMIA is always a possibility - even as the lake warms up.  Learn about it.  Watch for symptoms in yourself and your buddies.
  7. 50 FEET FROM SHORE:  many of us do it, I'll be the first to admit, but know that swimming across the lake, or even more than 50 from shore is illegal without a boat to support you.  Be smart.  Read up on the rules .


Filed under: Open Water Swimming, United States Masters Swimming


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