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Open Water Swimming Safety Tips

Open water swimming is a never ending adventure. There is a freedom and challenge to open water swimming which just can't be experienced in the pool. However, it's important to stay safe. Take a look at our water safety tips below.

Never Swim Alone

Swim within a group of likeminded people or friends, who have the same love for the sport and are all aiming for the same kind of fun. One of them should be a qualified lifeguard. As a minimum have a safety spotter on the shore. Most venues make this a rule now anyway.

Ask the local lifeguards if there are any conditions, such as rip currents or other hazards, that you should be aware of before swimming in the open ocean. If you're at a beach with a buoy or other marker to swim to, let the lifeguard know your route. Tell the lifeguard, or someone else, where you are going and when you expect to be back, so they'll keep an eye on you. Take a waterproof mobile phone with you.

Be Seen in Bright Clothes

Swimmers may be able to see boaters, but boaters may struggle to see swimmers, or not see them at all. A collision with any boat can be fatal.

Wear bright swimming clothes. A thin and lightweight red and yellow top is easy to swim in. It can also keep you warmer and provide sunburn protection.

Alternatively you could tow a bright orange float, but it maybe more cumbersome than swimming in clothes, reducing your freedom to move due to the tether. You decide.

Be Mindful

Watch out for big waves and undertow. Weaverfish live on the sand and may sting you if you wade barefoot in shallow water or the surf.

Avoid mooring areas, marinas and jetties used by boats, ferry routes and boating channels. Be aware that boats may be in any area of the beach at any time of day. Only swim when weather conditions are suitable. Remember they can change quickly.


Hopefully this isn't something you will need, but should you find yourself in difficulty in the deep water just roll yourself onto your back, then put your hand in the air and wave to catch someone's attention. This just keeps you in a nicely buoyant and relaxed position whilst making you obvious.

Safety Boat

If possible have a safety boat or support canoe when going into open water. It can help you if you start to struggle and others will see your safety boat before they see you.

Show to other water users that there are swimmers or divers in the water by displaying an Alpha flag on your boat.

Take turns so that the one in the boat also has a chance for a swim every now and then. If you're skilful you can swap over in the middle of water. One swimmer holds the boat and the boater jumps out. Then the swimmer climbs into the boat while the boater holds it. Easy.

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