Swimming for the Bay: Open Water Swimming Tips from Elizabeth Beisel

Swimming for the Bay: Open Water Swimming Tips from Elizabeth Beisel

by Elizabeth Beisel

I am ecstatic to finally be a part of the Save The Bay open water Swim! I got my start in swimming simply because I grew up in the Ocean State and my parents wanted me to be safe in and around the local waters. The love I developed for Rhode Island waters turned into an Olympic swimming career and I couldn’t be more grateful for everything this state has provided me.

I am fortunate enough to now have a platform to give back to the state and bring awareness to the pollution and litter in and around our beaches, and that is why I am most excited to join Save The Bay this August 4 in their 42nd annual open water Swim.

We, as Rhode Islanders, must protect our waters in order to preserve them for the generations to come. I was able to swim in Narragansett Bay my entire childhood because of the efforts of people who came before me. Now it is my turn to pay it forward.

Join me on Saturday, Aug. 4, as we support Save The Bay’s efforts to make our Bay a swimmable and safe place for everyone, and follow these simple open water swimming tips.

Warm up!

1. Warm up. Waters can be especially cold up here in New England, but no matter what the temperature is during your race or swim, you always want to make sure your body is warm and loose before you start. If the event coordinators allow it, hop in the water for 10 minutes before the start and loosen up. This will help your body acclimate to the water and relax the muscles, which is huge for preventing injuries. If there is no warm-up allowed, do some stretching and get your heart rate up by jogging or doing a few jumping jacks. You will swim faster and your body will thank you for it.

Stay hydrated!
2. Fueling. Chances are, you won’t be swimming with a water bottle attached to you during your event. Start hydrating your body a bit more a day or two before your swim to avoid dehydration. Eat something before your swim. If you can’t stomach a lot of food early in the morning, eat a high calorie bar or smoothie that is easy to digest and won’t make you feel too full. Food is our energy source and you definitely want to be fueled up before a grueling swim.
Use the proper equipment!

3. Equipment. If you are doing an open water swim, you want to be as comfortable and confident as possible in your gear. If you are wearing a wetsuit or a suit that might rub your skin, rub baby oil or Vaseline on your skin where chaffing might occur. This will decrease the chances of your skin being raw after the swim and will make the event itself much more enjoyable. I suggest wearing two layers of caps: first cap, then goggles on, then second cap. This will help your goggles stay on during the swim.

Stay aware!

4. Sighting. This is a crucial part of open water swimming. Because you have no line on the bottom to follow, you must become comfortable with lifting your head straight ahead to see where you’re going. Practice this skill in the weeks prior to your event; it will make it easier on your neck come race time and you will be comfortable knowing how to spot your course. Be familiar with your course before you dive in for your swim so if you get separated from your pack, you are able to still swim calmly and confidently in the right direction. Make sure you have a good pair of goggles that won’t fog up or blur your vision.

Pace yourself!


5. Pace yourself. Open water swimming is never a sprint. Start off at a comfortable pace and slowly start picking it up as the swim goes on. Keep your heart rate steady and under control so that you finish the swim strong and feel good the entire time.

*Please note:  Be sure to access the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus through the main entrance on Harborside Blvd. Your GPS may suggest taking Ernest Street to JWU’s Shipyard Street entrance, but that route requires a key card for entry.  

From Route I-95 North or South, take Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Head downhill on Thurbers Avenue to US Route 1A (Allens Avenue). Turn right onto Allens Ave. Continue southbound on Allens Ave. into Cranston, where Allens Ave. becomes Narragansett Blvd. Turn left onto Harborside Blvd. at the traffic light by the Shell gas station. Follow Harborside Blvd. through the Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus. At the end of Harborside Blvd., turn right onto Save The Bay Drive. Save The Bay Drive becomes a circular, one-way roadway as you approach the Bay Center. Parking is available in four guest lots after you pass the main building. Enter the building through the main entrance.


July 11, 2021

Dear Friends, Supporters and Community Members, 

At this time, Save The Bay’s facilities in Providence and Westerly remain closed to the public in response to COVID-19.

The Exploration Center and Aquarium in Newport reopened Monday, July 5, with new hours and visiting procedures in place.

Save The Bay is offering volunteer and internship opportunities with new policies and procedures for the health and safety of all involved.

Our staff continues to protect and improve Narragansett Bay, working both remotely and on-site. If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone (401-272-3540) or email (savebay@savebay.org), or on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.