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.
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.
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.
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.