Sea Swimming

I think I have always been a little bit slow on the uptake. It took me three years of living at Pickwell to realise just how exhilarating it is to run along the coastal paths on our doorstep. Similarly it has taken me four years to realise quite how enjoyable it is to go for a 'proper' swim in the sea just a few fields away
Now I would be lying if I said that the phrase 'mid-life crisis' has not been bandied around a bit recently.... but to add to the running my new love is sea swimming. Sure watching the Olympics with the Brownlees in the triathlon and the open swimming marathon has helped push me on.... but I think this one might last.
One of the great things about sea swimming is that rather than lament about the lack of waves for a surf, you can rejoice in a 1-2ft report on the 'Magic Seaweed'  surf forecast and head for a swim.
Right firstly the gear.... Goggles are a must.... Normal swim goggles are fine but for additional protection from the waves and for the extra field of vision, then a pair of sea swimming goggles is really useful. You just have to put up with looking like this....
Or this (our good friend Paul)
Now it might just be me, but I think that Paul has something of the Jean Reno in the 'Big Blue' about him (a cultural reference those of you under 40 may not get!)
Mmm..... yours are much bigger than mine
Next for the suit. In the late summer / early Autumn if you are hardy then there is no need for any suit in order to keep you warm. It is invaluable, however, in terms of the additional buoyancy that it gives. Normal summer surf suits are fine but you can find that that your movement is a bit restricted and this can lead to some aches. If you think that you might get out a bit more regularly then a triathlon style suit, which is much thinner and has more flexibility, will really assist you. You will however have to face the prospect of looking something like this.....
As you can see by this vacuum packed turkey look.... they can also be a little trickier to get on and are not so flattering on the middle aged man!
So the first challenge is to get down to the sea without seeing anyone you know....... The second challenge is to get out behind the break.
This involves a few duck dives and is surprisingly much easier than getting out back on a surfboard.
Once you are out the swell does take a bit of getting used to and I certainly found my breathing pretty challenging to begin with ....but it is amazing how quickly you can acclimatise (we're the little dots looking a bit like seals in this picture)
This Sunday we had James ‘the coach’ Hood out on his rescue board to give us a few pointers.
He had 2 top tips for this week 1) Significantly reduce the work rate of your legs compared to pool swimming (apparently with front crawl your legs are mainly to give you buoyancy and your wetsuit is doing that for you). Allegedly your upper body gives you 80 percent of the forward momentum so if your legs are going like mad you are wasting energy 2) Extend the length of your stoke forward and pull deeper in the water.

OK so far this is maybe sounding somewhat athletic and even a little scientific so here’s the reality check.... We stop every 50 metres and chat for a while and when necessary we do backstroke or breastroke. It really it’s no different to what goes on in your local swimming pool (just without the bombing, diving and heavy petting!)

Open water swimming or 'wild swimming' has understandably experienced a significant increase in popularity of late. It is important to realise that it can be very dangerous and you need to do your homework before going out. The following link gives a helpful guide to staying safe when swimming.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although Putsborough is regarded as one of the safer local surfing / swimming beaches it does not have lifeguards present and it can have a strong rip at times (particularly close to Baggy Point)

So next time you are on holiday and the waves are flat, rather than moping....Find a friends or two, get your goggles on and go for a swim.