Open water swimming refers to the type of swimming that takes place away from the confines of a swimming pool. This generally means in a river, lake, the sea, or a reservoir, with no artificial boundaries. This can bring a great sense of freedom and adventure, away from the harsh chemicals and regimented lanes of a pool.
Of course, people have always swum in open water, but the sport has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the past decade. It can be anything from a fun way to meet new people to a serious competitive sport, with the most dedicated athletes taking part in events all around the country.
Some people simply enjoy the invigorating sensation of immersing themselves in cold water. This can boost the immune system and trigger the release of certain chemicals in the brain that lead to a more positive and happier frame of mind. Some people even find that it helps them to manage conditions such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Anyone who has the ability to swim in water without regularly needing to put their feet down or touch the side of the pool should be able to manage open water swimming. It can take some time (and bravery) to get used to entering the unheated water if you are used to swimming in a pool, but the rewards are well worth it.
One inspiring recent news story from Devon proves that people of any age and confidence levels can take joy in the open water. The North Devon Gazette reports that Christine Moreton from Ilfracombe, aged 72, has conquered her lifelong fear of water to become a regular sea swimmer.
Christine explained that she had a negative experience in the water when she was younger, and has since avoided any aquatic adventures. However, she was determined to confront her fears and has proved that age is no barrier. With the help and encouragement of her swimming coaches, she can now swim front crawl in the sea for over 200 metres.
Christine said: "From entering the water that first time, I’ve felt safe with them by my side. Meeting Terri and Allie (her coaches) has enriched my life and given a new dimension to my life, both with overcoming fear and meeting new people. Anyone can do it with the trust and support of trainers and coaches."
Both Allie and Terri said: "We are so proud of Christine's journey and progress and want to highlight her dedication and motivation to achieve her goal, which to swim front crawl was not originally her aim, but she was loving it so much she wanted to learn."
They added: "It just goes to show that taking that first small step can open so many doors to the wonderful world of open water. Christine is a perfect example that anyone can do it with the trust and support of trainers and coaches."
Whether you want to train for a triathlon or just experience the joys of the open water, it’s a much more accessible activity than you might have assumed.
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