Difference between swimming in a pool and open water!

There are many obvious differences between swimming in the pool and open water but I am going to discuss some differences between the two to help you with your swimming. You may be a strong pool swimmer but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be strong at open water swimming.

Pool swimming is safer than open water purely because you are in a confined area and normally people and lifeguards are near you.  So the fear of being unsafe is mainly taken away and with many pools now you can touch the bottom at both ends. There are many benefits from training in the pool to stop you from being bored doing laps and to help you improve.

The first thing you can do is accurate reps which you can time/pace and see your improvement each week. Depending on the length of the pool you can have a set plan that will help you in your training. You can take equipment; most pools allow this. If you want to improve its important not to just get in the pool and swim endless lengths at the same speed as improvement won’t come. Doing reps using pull buoys and paddles can help you get stronger, faster and become more buoyant. Swimming equipment is harder to use in the sea .Drills can easily be done in the pool due to no waves or current. In open water it will be more difficult. These are three areas that are important in the pool. When it comes down to the race day such as a Triathlon/Aquathlon in the pool it’s pretty easy as there is no open water fear and it feels safer. The only problem with pool races is that you’re not really racing others as it is mainly a timed event and you go off one by one.

With open water swimming there is a lot to consider but also so many benefits. Safety wise – depending where you do the open water swimming you need to consider if it’s safe. For example I swim in the sea but if the tide is really rough there is no way I am going to swim. Even in the summer I will use my wetsuit swimming in the sea as I feel much safer and buoyant with it on. Now with open water you can’t really do drills because of the unpredictability of waves. Reps times might be different due to cross tides and weather etc. So one week you might be flying along and the next struggling to move. Also, using equipment such as pull buoy and kick board will be a lot harder. People are put off with open water with the fear of something happening to them. Most seafronts have designated areas to swim which have lifeguards and the same with lakes and rivers.

The benefits of open water swimming is that it can improve you a lot, help with breathing purely because of the random waves etc. You get stronger because you are swimming against current rather than a pool where there is not current. Sea swimming is good for the skin and is proven to also help with recovery due to the salt in the water. If you are swimming in the sea it’s always good to mix up the pace and have a plan, instead of just getting in and swimming at one pace. The temperature of the water, depending on the time of the year you swim, may not be higher than 19 degrees towards the end of summer. September is normally the warmest time to swim in the year, whereas pool temperatures are kept high to around 28 degrees all year round. Air temperature can play a factor such as it can be a cold day in September but the temperature of the sea water can be warmer than air temperature which can affect your breathing. The body works harder in open water due to it being colder than the pool. You cannot stand up in the middle of a lake or sea, whereas you can in the pool. The chances are if you swim in UK in open water you are likely not to see anything from a few cms away.

In open water, you will need to keep an eye out of where you are, whereas in a pool you won’t need to because once you get to the end of the pool you turn back. In race day in open water you normally all go off at the same time so my advice would be if it’s your first time racing in open water stay away from the middle and keep to the edge. Open water races scare people because they fear it for many reasons, but my advice would be to practice there before your race to get used to it.

These are some tips and differences which I hope helps.

TRIATHLON ENGLAND NATIONAL SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIPS EXPERIENCE

This season has gone so well but where has all the time gone? It seems to have flown by. It’s been a great season for me no matter what happens in the remaining races I have left I have had a great one.

I did the National Sprint Triathlon Championships at Bedford back in August which was also the 2020 ETU Qualifier for the GB Triathlon team in Malmo. This was always the most important race of the year for me and to see how well I would do with experienced and strong athletes. I started training for this back in November when Mark Shepard started putting me through my paces on the bike. I haven’t been cycling long so I knew if I worked hard at it I could make big gains. With a season purely focused on triathlons, I knew it was going to be tough but I like a challenge and therefore focused a lot on this area. I always planned to do this race last year and kept it quiet from social media as I didn’t want any pressure and to keep low key. I only told my coaches, family and close friends.

So I wanted to keep a low key, I turned up to this race knowing I would be strong on the swim and run and hopefully the bike training would pay off, I have seen lots of gains on the bike. I didn’t really know what to expect, I have done big events before but I was entering a race which was the unknown for me.

I did my normal warm up and it was nice and sunny so was looking forward to it. I got ready for the swim and the start went off and I swam hard, I enjoyed the swim and came out with the front pack. I came into transition in 5th place and I then got on to the bike. The bike was going well and managing to keep a good pace. I had a few packs go past me which is annoying as they were drafting in a non-drafting race. It then started raining on the bike leg around 7-8 miles in for me and I suddenly nearly lost control at one of the roundabouts due to the rain and my lack of confidence on the bike. I then came onto a main road where lots of cars were going fast and so close to me. This put me off and I decided to ease off as my safety was more important than crossing the line as fast as I could. A few miles later my bike was making a racket and something sounded like it was grinding and I started to get very cold, but I made it fine to transition apart from forgetting to take my foot off one of my shoes. I got into transition and felt fresh, by this time it was pouring down.

I started the run fast and with it being wet and all on grass the conditions were tough. I had trails with me but left them in the car as the rain was not forecasted. I attacked the run going past a lot of people. I love cross country running, however with the rain coming down it was making the course tough. It was very slippery and I stacked it coming down hill as a result. Anyway I finished the run and was 11th in my Age Group. I had the 4th fastest run in my race and was not far off 5th place time wise.

So I am pleased with it as it was my first Triathlon championships and I will be back next year. This has given me a foundation and target now to work towards. Life is all about challenges and I decided at the end of last year to move into a new challenge. As a result of my placing I have a good chance of qualifying for the GB Triathlon Age Group team for a roll down place but will have to wait and see. What I do know Is that over the winter I will be working hard again on the bike and spending a bit more time on it.

CEP Ultralight Calf Sleeve and 2.0 Socks review

 

I had the privileged to test some products from CEP recently. I am a big fan of CEP compression socks. I first came across this brand in 2016 when competing at the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds, where they had a stand at the race. I was first put off by the price as I was like what is the difference between a £3 Pair of Socks compared to these, but after trying the sleeves on, which I still use now, I was surprised by how comfy they were; so here is my review.

A bit about CEP – unlike other compression companies, CEP markets its products around its medical history and supplying the medical industry around the world.  It is owned by a leading healthcare manufacturer. When researching their products I noted that they were of high quality compared to other brands; the compression in CEP products is medically graded and incredibly safe and effective as a result. There products are all focused on recovery. Recovery is very important as lots of people don’t rest up enough so people turn to recovery socks to aid in recovery and of course help with performance.

 

Ultralight Calf Sleeve

I started with the Ultralight Calf Sleeve.  I was intrigued to see the difference from my old pair. They where very comfy, and what I like about CEP is that the end of the sleeves do not leave marks on your legs and stop the blood circulation. I mainly use the sleeves in training and they feel so light. I also feel more comfortable with them on because of my history with calf injuries. What I did feel is that the next day my legs were very fresh and not as tired after a hard session. I also found that the new calf sleeves felt lighter and better then the ones I had before.

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2.0 Socks

Next up were the 2.0 Socks; they also felt very comfy. I prefer to wear these after my training as a recovery sock and for day to day life. I found the colour quite funky and a nice design. I also found there were no marks left on the leg wearing them at the top of the calf.  I find that if I wear a cheap pair of compression socks it really hurt the top of my calf after a few hours where the socks dig into the skin; these socks don’t do that so you wouldn’t get an injury from that. I used them a lot around the house and I also wore them in bed. My legs felt good the following morning, so I defiantly felt better wearing them.  What I do like about the socks is that they fit perfectly and that the cushion on the feet are in the right place.

I found that after a hard weekend of training/racing, from wearing these socks the whole day, I had no discomfort and my legs felt very good the following day.

I do really like CEP products and would recommend them. I have had other compression brands in the past and they would hurt my legs and leave marks. These come at a reasonable price but I feel are an important accessory in recovery and staying injury free and I feel they are the best on the market.

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Protecting your wetsuit is the key to expanding its life

 

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As you are all aware I have been using The Dry Bag to protect my wetsuit whilst it’s stored away this winter, protecting it from dust, dirt and creepy crawlies. The ventilated bag means it won’t festure or grow a spider colony, phew. I’ve found it so handy that I decided to write another blog about the importance of protecting your wetsuit and prolonging its life s you guys can hop on The Dry Bag band wagon with me.

Wetsuits degrade quickly. Fact. Which is annoying, not only because they’re expensive but once you’ve moulded to your wetsuit it becomes a second skin, important for race day right? After a race or an outdoor training session I would leave my wetsuit in a bag soaked, scrunched up and covered with sand and dirt – no wonder they didn’t last more than one season, doh! Sometimes, and (only sometimes!) I would wash it and let it dry in the bathroom over the shower door, resulting in a grumbling wife and a puddle on the floor! I can safely say she who is to be obeyed is in love with my Dry Bag!

If you’re prone to hanging your wetsuit outside to dry, The Dry Bag offers 3x more protection from the sun’s UV rays than without. If your wetsuit will degrade 30% quicker when exposed to sunlight it’s a no brainer to put in a Dry Bag when drying outside to keep it protected. This of course will help you get a couple more years from your wetsuit.

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The best feature is that it doesn’t take up a lot of room and it is easy to put into your wardrobe with the wetsuit hanging and still drying. This therefore saves time and means it’s easy to grab the wetsuit. Also bonus – The Dry Bag separates your wetsuit from your clothes and towels so you don’t get the lovely neoprene pong rubbing off on them.

My conclusion is that protecting your wetsuit (and therefore wallet) is key. Let’s be honest who wants to be paying hundreds for a new wetsuit every, single year? I’m excited to know that my wetsuit is ready to grab from my wardrobe come the spring safe in the knowledge that it will be dust, dirt and spider (!) free. With the season just around the corner my advice would be spend £60 on a product that you’ll be thankful for come those early morning training sessions. For further information, please use website link below.

Website

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Importance of Wetsuit Storage

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So I have been testing the DRY bag out for the past few months and you can read my previous blog about wetsuit protection HERE. It’s a quiet period of time for me in terms of swimming outside as my season is over for the winter. However I now know this is the important part for my wetsuit life and its storage over my off season period.

Firstly I revisit one of the 3 key areas mentioned in my previous blog (Storage)

Storage: Store your wetsuit in a ventilated environment and avoid using ordinary hangers which put stress on the shoulders of your wetsuit and will lead to it stretching over time. The Dry Bag lets you hang your wetsuit in a wardrobe whilst avoiding getting l’odeur neoprene on all your clothes. The Dry Hanger takes 25kg in drop weight and the arm of the hanger has been specially designed so you can fold your wetsuit in half and easily store it in the recommended way. The design of the hanger means you can also fit up to 2 wetsuit on the hanger – be efficient and store all your wetsuits in one place.

Since my last blog on this matter when I washed my wetsuit and put it in The Dry Bag for drying, I have used the bag not only for my wetsuit but to carry my wet cross-country clothes after my race which has proved very useful. Not only does it allow my soggy clothes to dry on the way home it prevents mess all over the car and bag allows me to transport dirty clothes home without ruining my running bags. Give it a try….

However let’s get back to the sole purpose of this blog – wetsuit storage.  What I have found so useful (and unexpected) is that it is like a suit bag in that I can hang my wetsuit up in my wardrobe like my suits and it is now stored away for safe keeping and protecting.

This is great for protecting as before I would leave it in my car or in a bag squashed up, damp and smelly. So when the season comes along all I need to do is go straight to my wardrobe and my wetsuit is hanging and ready to go which will make it easier to grab when in a rush for the first race day of the season.

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Wetsuit Care

Taking care of your wetsuit is crucial if you want to keep your new expensive wetsuit feeling new for as long as possible. Meticulous maintenance will not only increase the life of your wetsuit, but will also keep it looking and feeling fresh for a whole lot longer!

The following care and maintenance tips are intended to provide general information on how, by taking a few minutes of extra TLC, you can increase the lifespan of your wetsuit.

  1. Slow down when taking your suit off.

When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of the skin surface panels with a fingernail. Trying to quicken the process by grabbing at rubber won’t do the neoprene any favours. Take your time!

  1. Rinse in fresh water

Rinse your wetsuit inside and out with clean fresh water each time you use it, even if you’re planning a second session. Salt will destroy your suit faster than everything but direct sunlight. Take the time to do this and thank us later!

  1. Wetsuit shampoo

No matter how thoroughly you rinse your wetsuit, you’re going to miss some spots. Use wetsuit shampoo occasionally to help clean away salt which collects in crevices which will damage the neoprene overtime.

  1. Hang to dry

There are plenty of ways to damage a wetsuit when drying which include draping over balconies and garden fences. One of the best ways to maximize air circulation and complete drying is to hang your wetsuit inside-out, folded at the waist and in a Dry Bag.  The wide armed hanger keeps stress off the neoprene and will protect your wetsuit prolonging its performance. This tip should also be applied to Drysuits too.

  1. Silicone spray lube

If your wetsuit has a gouge, there are liquid fillers available for repair. These fillers are normally called liquid silicon or liquid rubber. Fill up the gouge with the liquid filler and let it dry completely before getting the wetsuit wet again.

Wetsuit Care

Taking proper care of your wetsuit has become more important because to put it simply, a good wetsuit is expensive. By following our care and maintenance tips your expensive new wetsuit should last a couple of seasons longer!

 

Check out DRY HERE