Adam "Ocean" Walker: 7 Steps from Pool to Open Water

on 5th March 2015

he Guardian newspaper recently described open water swimming as the “trend of 2015” and with more open water swimming events taking place across the UK in 2015, we couldn’t agree more!

If you’re thinking of taking the leap from the comfort of your local swimming pool to the challenges of the open water in 2015, Zoggs open water swimming Ambassador Adam 'Ocean' Walker, the first Briton to swim the toughest 7 oceans in the world, has put together 7 expert tips to will help you make a smooth transition…

1. Equipment Buying the right equipment is key! This includes a swim hat (latex or silicone) and a pair of reliable swimming goggles. My personal favourites are Zoggs Predator Flexwhich I wore during all of my 7 channel swims.

In addition ear plugs will also help reduce irritation and increase insulation and you may like to consider a tow float for safety too. For beginners I would also suggest buying a wetsuit from a recognized brand such as Zoggs, making sure it fits well and is the right thickness for your requirements.

Keeping warm after your swim is essential so a woolly hat and other warm clothing is important.

2. Acclimatization Open water temperature in the UK can range from as low as 4oc during the winter to 20oc in the summer months, depending on the severity of the weather. Such low temperatures are a long way from the warm waters of the average in-door pool, which is between 28/30oc, therefore acclimatization is extremely important. Start with small dips for acclimatization to cold water, wearing a wetsuit for additional insulation will help.

3. Confidence As there are no pool walls you need to be confident in open water. Take small steps to begin with, swimming in a controlled area ideally where you can stand up and swim from buoy to buoy. Start off with a small distance and then increase gradually as you get more confident

4. Partner Up Swim with a partner to give you a focus, help motivate you and also make you feel more confident. Swimming with a partner will also help when you start competing to get you used to swimming alongside someone.

5. Stroke technique Your swim technique and efficiency will be of paramount importance to save energy as well as keeping injury free when swimming the challenging long distances open water requires. In waves you will find it easier to go underneath them than over the top and having a low head will really help this.

Read more about the Ocean Walker technique here

6. Sighting This is a very important skill to master in open water. If you focus on a point beyond where you are going to swim, this will act as a guide. The amount of times you sight will also be dependent on how efficient your stroke is and whether you can swim in a straight line. You can master this in a pool which will increase your confidence and reduce how many times you sight. My recommendation is to not lift your head too high just enough so your eyes clear the water. You can breathe when sighting, however arguably this is less efficient.

7. Speed & Pace When you are more advanced and start racing you will need to practice a fast start and quickly getting into a rhythm. My recommendation is to wet your face and back of your neck to prime yourself for entry.

This post includes expert advice from Zoggs Open Water / Triathlon Swimming Ambassador Adam ‘Ocean’ Walker. Adam became the first British person to complete the Oceans7 - known as the toughest 7 ocean swims on the planet.

Adam will be coaching in the Zoggs @endless pools at this year’s Swim Expo - 20th to the 22th March.