What is so exciting about swimming is its multidimensional nature. Either you're a chilled individual who just wants to experience the relaxing effects of water or an adrenaline seeker who always looks for new challenges, swimming is rewarding for all. For the latter category, long-distance swimming represents a challenge that can provide thrilling times. Let's take a... dive to the depths of this wonderful activity.
The variations of long-distance swimming
Unlike the standard forms of the other kinds of swimming, long-distance swimming is more flexible. Its length is diverse and it can take place either in a swimming pool or in open water. As its name implies the distances are much longer than all other swim competitions, thus endurance is the most crucial element. The first official long-distance pool swim race took place in the World Championship of 1976. It was a unique spectacle involving a 24-hour swim race in a 50 m swimming pool. The first winner was Peppo Biscarini, an Italian-American swimmer who covered a distance of 83.7 km. On the other hand, open long-distance swims take place in open water and are far more popular. The distances of those races range from 1km to 25 km. The English Channel, Fehrmarn Belt and Cook Strait are among the most well-known Crossings of Catalina Channel. Furthermore, long-distance swimming is an Olympic event attracting worldwide interest.
Long-distance swimming in Australia
Although most people would expect that long-distance swimming is a sport for the few, its popularity is rising all over the world. Of course, a decisive factor was the closing of the swimming pools globally, due to the pandemic. Numerous people found extra motivation to get out in nature and release their tension by swimming in open water. A news video that was recently presented informed us about a group of swimmers who share their passion for swimming in cold, open water. Interestingly, all those dedicated swimmers are middle-aged people with no super bodies. This is a clear indication that all of us can explore this kind of experience. You can see their joy when they speak about their regular swimming in the lake and how transformative and positive this habit is for them.
There's more than that, though. The Australian Long Distance Swimming Association was formed back in 2016, aiming to assist Australians who are either engaged in long-distance, open water swimming or wish to discover it.
Open Water Swimming in Australia
Since most long-distance swimming sessions take place in open water, swimming in open water is part of it. Australians are embracing such events and there are numerous events for participating. It is very interesting as well as challenging that those events are not strictly orientated towards competent adult swimmers, but towards all ages and levels. This way, the swimming culture of a country that is surrounded by water can pass from generation to generation. Similar events take place in other parts of Australia as well. It is not accidental that these kinds of events are becoming increasingly popular. Even before the pandemic, which changed drastically the pattern of our daily lives, triggering the need to “escape” from restrictions, they moved a great number of people. Such an experience can be a revelation to all newcomers.
The essentials of long-distance swimming
When speaking about what to look for when entering the “world” of long-distance swimming, there has to be a distinction between swimming pools and open water. In the first, the environment is more easily controlled as there are no high waves or bad weather conditions that could make the swim session difficult. On the contrary, in open water, you should take precautions such as having at least one experienced person next to you and checking the weather forecast before getting in the water. Although there can be variations regarding which swimming style to employ, it is freestyle swimming that is the most usual when swimming long distances in open water. Therefore, you should master that technique perfectly. It would also be useful to try and keep a routine of swimming throughout the whole year. This is more necessary if you wish to take the step during wintertime. Most winter swimmers swim regularly through the seasons, thus keeping their bodies fit and ready for the unavoidable temperature differences.
How to prepare for long-distance swimming
Preparing for long-distance swimming is a task that needs thorough planning and intense practice. The aspect of safety is the number one priority. Of course, as we have already mentioned, no long-distance swimmer stays alone during swimming. Except for the essential security though, there needs to be a certain series of steps before experiencing the sensation of long-distance swimming:
- Reach a high level of swimming competence
- Pay attention to your diet
- Be with people you trust completely
- Allow yourself to progress slowly and steadily
Take a minute to consider each of the above steps. It would be premature to join a long-distance swimming session if you don't feel confident about your swim skills. Not because you would be in danger as the person who will accompany you, will take care of your safety-but because you would miss the whole spirit and pleasure of the session, in case you won't be able to make it to the end. For making it to the end you would also need to be fit and energetic. Without a proper diet that will provide you with all the necessary ingredients, chances for succeeding are again becoming slimmer. Then, the element of trust for your fellow companion is vital. We speak about your safety, therefore you should be together with trustworthy people. Finally, you should take your time before making the move. A steady and well-planned preparation is the optimal method by completing certain milestones and increasing your endurance. Perfect planning not only prevents pathetic performance but also provides the greatest and most moving life experiences.