Ah summertime – friends, picnics, suntans and warm water; a great time to do some open water swimming. With all the normal safety precautions in mind, it’s important to consider other obstacles that can impede a good swim.
1. Stingrays – these bottom dwellers, particularly prevalent along sandy beaches of during the summer months, can deliver a very painful dose of venom from their stingers. Avoid the stingrays by doing the “stingray shuffle” when entering the water. Shuffling your feet through the sand will send vibrations scaring off the stingrays. If you do get stung, soak your feet in the hottest possible water you can tolerate. This will extract the painful venom.
2. Boats – venturing into the open water can involve encounters with boats or other water craft. Generally speaking it’s not smart to swim in areas with heavy boat traffic. If you are headed out for long crossing it’s best to have an escort kayak or boat to assist you along the way. Not only can the escort provide direction, food and water, they also help to make you more visible out on the open water.
3. Jelly fish – these guys can range from mildly annoying to radically painful depending upon the type of jelly fish. The notorious box jelly fish can deliver venom though contact which can be fatal. The good news is that jelly fish swarms are often predictable so be sure to monitor lifeguard warnings and stay out of the water when jelly fish are prevalent.
Just because there are potentially dangerous elements in the open water doesn’t mean you should go swimming. If you take necessary precautions and swim within your limits, open water swimming is a great experience. The more you know about the body of water in which you’re swimming the better off you’ll be when it comes to having an excellent open water swim. Remember, never swim alone and be sure to ask the lifeguards about current conditions.