Despite the common misconception, swimming in the ocean isn’t just for elite athletes.
Sure, most triathlons take place in bays and beaches all over the world, but with a planet that’s over 70% water, there’s plenty of room for swimmers of all levels to enjoy its oceans.
Sometimes it’s impossible to hit the beach for a wet workout: you don’t live by an ocean, it’s easier to hit the pool at the gym, ocean water is too cold… the possibilities are endless. However, there are a few reasons why getting your swim on in the ocean yields better results than pool swimming.
It’s utterly gorgeous
There’s no comparison — swimming in the ocean is much more interesting than staring at the tiles of an indoor pool. With the sun on your back and the edge of a continent close by, you’re getting a unique view that not everyone gets to enjoy. Take advantage of a “natural” pool if you can, and leave the indoor pools to the land-locked.
Salt water is great for your body
There are actually sprays that mimic the effect of salt water on your hair, but why buy when you can get it the old fashioned way? Salt water makes skin glow and gently exfoliates your body from top to bottom. That sounds a heck of a lot better than swimming in tons of chlorine and chemicals, doesn’t it?
It’s less structured than a pool
No more counting laps or watching the clock. When you hit the waves, the only rules are the ones that you set for yourself. No need to worry about lane lines, lapping the person in front of you, keeping track of the repetitive number of laps, etc. All that stands between you and your goal is your own effort.
Observe interesting plants and animals
How many pools have sea creatures or awesome plant life for your viewing pleasure? Instead of blankly staring at the floor, you can have an aquarium-like experience for free when you opt for the ocean. And that leads us to…
You won’t realize you’re actually exercising
With so much to look at, you’re less likely to even notice that you’re working out! Instead of counting silently to yourself, you’ll be on the lookout for dolphins, schools of fish, maybe even coral (depending on where you’re swimming). Before you know it, you’ll have hit the mile marker and will feel fantastic.
It’s a better workout
What you see is what you get with pools — no currents, no tides, no nothing. The ocean is in a constant state of change as the day goes on, so rarely is a straight shot a true straight shot. You have a much better chance of swimming further in the same amount of time simply due to the natural ebb and flow of the water.
You’ll get a different experience every time
Tons of things affect an ocean swim: what time of day it is, the season, what the weather is doing, as so on. By not allowing your body to get used to the exact same motions day in and day out, you’re keeping yourself on your toes and maximizing the potential rewards.
It will prepare you for different activities
Lots of people are afraid of the ocean. “What if I get attacked by a shark?” “It’s so big and scary.” While these fears aren’t completely unfounded, conquering those fears will help you to get comfortable with the endless possibilities that the ocean provides. Want to try surfing? Snorkeling? Kayaking? Getting used to the sea will open up a whole new world of amazing, new and fun activities.
No gym membership required.
If you’re new to ocean swimming, here are a few essentials you’ll want to bring:
- Swim cap – these aren’t just for long-haired swimmers, either. A good swim cap helps you to stay streamlined, keeps even short hair from getting tangled in your goggle straps, and traps heat (especially helpful if the water is chilly).
- Anti-fog goggles – a good pair of goggles is essential. If you aren’t sure if yours are defogged, you can pick up an anti-fogging solution from any sporting goods store to drop into each lens and gently rub around to prevent it from happening.
- Wetsuit – you definitely don’t need a full wetsuit, but when you’re dealing with currents, tides and cold water, a good wetsuit will come in very handy. For warmer days, a spring suit will do just fine.
- Buddy – not only is swimming with a pal more fun, it’s safer! Lots of beaches don’t have lifeguards on hand at all times, and unlike a gym pool, there sometimes aren’t other people around to lend a hand if you need assistance. Conditions in the ocean can change rapidly, so it’s important to have a wingman (or wingwoman) nearby.
- Water – even experienced swimmers might find themselves with a mouthful of salt water every now and again. Since salt water dehydrates you rather quickly, be sure to have a bottle of water ready and waiting for you at the end of the swim. Plus, how matter how you work out, rehydrating afterwards is always crucial, so don’t forget this important post-workout drink.
- Waterproof camera – optional, but recommended. With killer views and the potential to run into some interesting wildlife, you’re likely to inspire more people to brave the waves with some epic pics.
Hopefully this will inspire you to challenge yourself, try something new, and have a fantastic time in the process. See you on the beach!