Open water swimming has become increasingly popular, with people all over the world taking to the outdoors in a lake, ocean or other bodies of open water. Here are some benefits of taking the plunge!
It is a relaxing yet exhilarating experience to be out there as nature intended with plenty of stimulus to keep your mind occupied. What a great feeling to be at one with nature! The natural backdrops of open water swims make them all the more breath taking. If you are mostly a pool swimmer, it is nice to get out of the concrete box, and not have to stare at a black line or the same walls for hours on end. There is a great sense of achievement in open water when you look back to where you swam from and see the distance you’ve accomplished. No two swims are exactly the same, and you can’t really compare your time to the last, because the conditions and currents make each experience as unique as a finger print.
The social benefits are great. As everyone knows, the camaraderie in this sport is like no other. You don’t have to participate in the sport to race or even be competitive; you can do it for the sheer enjoyment of being out there. The open water swimming community is among the most supportive and passionate communities around, with many local groups arranging swims daily.
Acclimatizing to the cold temperatures of open water is pretty testing – pushing you both physically and mentally. Training your body’s cold responses is sometimes as much of an achievement as completing the swim itself! For beginners, wetsuits are recommended to help adjust to the water temperature and can improve buoyancy. It is also a great challenge knowing that you have no floor to stand up on or side to hang onto, so it does offer a challenge that isn’t there in a confined pool environment.
The health benefits are practically endless, and it’s commonly known that exercise does wonders for both physical and mental health. It helps with weight loss, depression, anxiety and improves mood. Open water swimming is no exception. Acclimatizing and adapting to the cold water can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks, and being immersed in cold water allows your body temperature to drop. This makes your body work harder to warm up, in turn burning fat and speeding up metabolism. It provides an all-over body workout, so it is one of the best forms of exercise there is.
Whether you complete your first open water swim or your first competition, simply adapting to the temperature of the water compared to the pool and not being able to see what’s below you is an achievement in itself. The sense of personal accomplishment is pretty amazing, whatever distance you want to cover, from 500 meters to 10k – there is no limit to your enjoyment!
You’re in luck because Oregon has so many open water swimming opportunities in some of the most beautiful settings! Here are a few upcoming open water events in the Summer of 2019:
- July 7: Portland Bridge Swim (entries full for 2019 – but a true testament to an ultramarathon-distance open water swim – try for 2020!)
- July 13-14: Southern Oregon Swims at Applegate Lake
- July 26-28: Cascade Lakes Swim Series & Festival at Elk Lake
- August 17: Southern Oregon Coast Swims at Eel Lake
- September 7: Southern Oregon Mountain Swims at Lake of the Woods