Summertime Ocean Swimming
“Summertime…and the living is easy…fish are jumping…and the ocean is warm.…” Those are not exactly the words to the song, but the water temperature is perfect for those who love to swim in the fresh, open ocean. September is one of the best months to swim in Delaware. Ocean swimming can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of summer. But it also offers challenges that ocean swimmers need to be aware of before venturing into the vast body of water.
Look! Check out the water conditions before you dive in: One of the easiest ways to research the water is to ask a lifeguard if there is anything you should be aware of before you go out. If a lifeguard is not present, use common sense. Look for strong winds, weather changes, and jellyfish on the shoreline. Be aware of jetties and old piers and avoid getting too close as unseen currents can slam you into the rocks without notice.
Stay calm: If you go into the ocean feeling stressed, you won’t enjoy your experience and you may be distracted from noticing important safety cues. Turn around and take a walk on the sand, and only enter the water when you are calm, cool, and collected.
Swim near guards and the red flags: If for any reason you are swimming by yourself, alert the guards that you are going for a swim. If there are no guards out when you are swimming, ask some friends or friendly people on the beach to keep an eye out for you, and never swim alone!
Stay close to the shoreline: Use common sense and do not go too far away from the shoreline. A good rule of thumb is to go just past where the waves are starting to break. This will allow you to swim in a calm space and not be tossed around. It makes it easier for breathing as well. Don’t forget: you are only halfway through your swim when you turn around. Save energy for the swim back to shore!
Have the right tools: The beauty of swimming in the ocean is that you don’t need much, but there are a couple of tools that can help make your experience safer and more comfortable.
1) Sunscreen: Try to use a sunscreen that isn’t harmful to the reefs and ocean life. You want to avoid chemicals such as oxibenzone and octinoxate. Safe Sea is 50+ SPF and has a jellyfish and sea lice barrier protection built in. If you experience a jelly fish sting, apply some vinegar which will help ease the sting.
2) UPF Swimwear: UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. It is a system designed to measure the effectiveness of sun-protective fabrics. This is unique and slightly different from the SPF system used to measure sunscreens, though before the UPF system, sun-protective clothing was also rated according to the SPF system. While clothing with a UPF of 30 or more provides good protection against the sun’s rays, for optimal protection, look for clothing with UPF 50 or higher.
3) Wetsuits: I bought my first wetsuit last year and love it! Although it is a production to put on and take off, it has many advantages. It will definitely keep you warmer. Not only when the water is cold, but also if you want to stay in the water 30 minutes or longer. It will also help protect your skin from sunburn, jellyfish, and sea lice. Wearing a wetsuit helps you to float more easily as well, which is a huge advantage in the ocean.
Remember: you need to be aware and watch your surroundings when you venture out into the ocean for a swim. Enjoy the beach and ocean, but most importantly—be safe! ▼
Jon Adler Kaplan is a Health Coach and Fitness Trainer both virtually and at Rise Fitness and Adventure. Email Jon with any fitness questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Erik Dungan on Unsplash.com