Sports you should definitely try this summer... open water swimming

We asked Ireland’s leading 10km swimmer Chris Bryan what you need before dipping your toe in the water.

IT’S SUMMER, AND World Cup games don’t kick off until late in the afternoon. So you’ve got ample time to get out there and try your hand (and feet) at a new sporting pastime.

Over the coming (hopefully stone-splitting) month’s we’ll bring you some top tips on how to take on those sports you’ve always liked the look of, but didn’t quite get around to. This week… open water swimming!

Chris Bryan 20/7/2011 Source: Andrea Staccioli Insidefoto

Give it a go if… If you’re an able swimmer or an endurance athlete who is tired of pounding the road.

What you need: This really is a sport of minimal investment. A pair of trunks and some goggles will take you a long way during the summer months. You should also become a member of Swim Ireland and a swimming club near you.

The biggest investment you can make is a wetsuit. This time of year you probably won’t need one, but if you decide to put your money in neoprene, make sure you’re getting one designed for triathlons or swimming as other water sports such as skiing or surfing have fewer design demands.

Where? You can pick a safe spot in a lake of your choosing on the quiet, but do go for a swim club in your region. (Including but not limited to) Sandycove Swimmers in Cork, The Irish Long Distance Swimming Association organises many races around Ulster, Leinster Open Sea Swimming do exactly what they say on the tin and, by no means least, the Sligo Open Water Swim League features five of the most picturesque races you could hope for.

Anything I can do before taking it on?

“Get comfortable being uncomfortable,” is the advice from Ireland’s leading long-distance swimmer, Chris Bryan. The 10km competitor (don’t worry, you can find plenty of swims under 2km in and around Ireland) adds:

“I could easily over-complicate it and say strengthen your internal and external rotator cuffs, but to simplify it – you need to get moving.

“Some people think they need to save energy. Forget about that. Do some arm swings, get loose and get ready so that you’re not stiff setting off.

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“It’s all about rhythm. Find that rhythm and stick in it.”

Top tips: So long as you know how to swim and have the energy to take you to the nearest shore, there’s very little stopping you. However, Bryan underlines the point that swimming in a lake or the sea is a world away from doing lengths in the pool.

“Of course you need to be a strong swimmer, but you really need to get out into the open water and take on the conditions head-on.

“Straight away it’s gonna be cold, uncomfortable, you’re not going to know where you’re going. – putting yourself in those situations you’ve got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

“Get used to swimming in open water. In the pool you don’t need to look up. If you’re swimming and you’re not looking up, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going if you’re going in the wrong direction.

“There’s nothing worse than realising that last 20 – 100 metres was for no gain.”

Go on in, the water’s fine.

One of our writers has been given an 8-week challenge to get in shape

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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