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16-09-2020, 10:39   #1
coL
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Openwater Swimming Risks

I am a reasonably experienced open water swimmer but by no means an expert.

A friend of mine who is an experienced pool swimmer and interested in getting into OW swimming was recently asking me about the risks involved and what they might need to be conscious/aware of when doing an OW swim.

I did my best to list the things I could think of but it got me thinking that a comprehensive list might be helpful with contributions from those with more experience. If this is already discussed elsewhere apologies.

I have listed below the things I could think of, I would be interested to hear if anyone has others that are not included:

- Your level of ability/experience and if it is sufficient for the conditions and risks on the day
- Current and forecasted weather and wind direction
- Tides/Currents
- Water temp and do you have the experience/equipment to deal with it
- Your equipment and its condition
- Familiarity with cold water temps and ability to cope
- safe entry/exit points
- underwater hazards (rocks, nets)
- pollution/cleanliness of the water
- secure parking
- Dangerous sea life (like lions mane jellyfish!!)
- Non dangerous sea life that might become aggressive
- Any nearby sea life with young
- traffic (boats, jet skis etc)
- Swimming with a partner (advisable or essential?)

In particular the two things I wasn't able to give any advise on was whether or not it is dangerous to swim in/over sea weed and if jellyfish are the only sea creatures to be concerned about.

There isn't much sea weed at the beaches I swim at, and I normally keep well away from it, but besides the risk of getting tangled are there any other risks? My friend was asking about eels/crabs that might take an opportunistic nip out of a passing swimmer. I told them that I thought that this was unlikely but I don't know for sure. Can anyone confirm?

In terms of sea life, obviously jellyfish are the big concern but are there others to be concerned/aware of? Could seals become aggressive or overly curious?

Last edited by coL; 18-09-2020 at 09:09. Reason: updated list
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16-09-2020, 11:10   #2
thejaguar
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Seals can become aggressive/protective if there are cubs around.

I know of a few people around Sandycove & the 40 foot over the years who've been bitten. Nothing serious, but wouldn't fancy it myself.
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16-09-2020, 11:15   #3
DBB
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Possibly under the "underwater hazards" category, the danger posed by fishing nets, whether legal or illegal. I’ve heard a diver who got out of a net entanglement describe the net as being like a "living monster", the more you struggle, the more it consumes you. Frightening.
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16-09-2020, 11:18   #4
denartha
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Seals can become aggressive/protective if there are cubs around.

I know of a few people around Sandycove & the 40 foot over the years who've been bitten. Nothing serious, but wouldn't fancy it myself.
Same with dolphins. They aren't all like Flipper.
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16-09-2020, 12:37   #5
audiRon
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Same with dolphins. They aren't all like Flipper.
Don't forget the weather conditions wind, etc
Don't swim in fog, lightening. Check the local forcast before heading out.
Just because its a warm day doesn't mean the water will be warm. Cold water shock getting in and hypothermia when I there for a while recognise the symptoms
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16-09-2020, 16:05   #6
coL
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Some very good suggestions there. I have updated the list accordingly.

Can anyone answer my question about sea weed?
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16-09-2020, 16:16   #7
audiRon
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Some very good suggestions there. I have updated the list accordingly.

Can anyone answer my question about sea weed?
In my experience seaweed in the sea isn't an issue, but in a lake reeds,etc, can affect your pull under the water and will slow you down they can get quiet thick. They also can hide rocks and other obstacles which might tear your hands and fingers to shreds.
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16-09-2020, 16:33   #8
coL
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In my experience seaweed in the sea isn't an issue, but in a lake reeds,etc, can affect your pull under the water and will slow you down they can get quiet thick. They also can hide rocks and other obstacles which might tear your hands and fingers to shreds.
Thanks for the info. What are the chances of an ell or something else taking a nip out of me from the sea weed?
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16-09-2020, 18:22   #9
audiRon
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Thanks for the info. What are the chances of an ell or something else taking a nip out of me from the sea weed?
That reminds me, actually when I was swimming in a relay before, one of the guys got bitten by a lamprey on the chest, at least that what we thought it was. Horrible looking thing, but I think that was very unusual
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16-09-2020, 21:30   #10
Kurt_Godel.
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Good to assess and consider risks, but 99.99% of the time OW swimming passes without incident. Swim in a group, preferably with local experienced swimmers for a while. Wearing a wetsuit will help with buoyancy/safety/jellyfish/hypothermia.

Swim Ireland have been running adult sea swimming classes lately, I'm helping out at one and its fantastic to see the progress swimmers are making week after week. They are aimed at people who can swim at least 100m, who want to develop their OW abilities. From what I've seen, a group of inexperienced strangers meet at a beach- small groups, dedicated lifeguard, swim coach, and the area risk assessment already performed. They will be finishing shortly but a new series planned from next April, so keep an eye out for that.
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17-09-2020, 09:10   #11
coL
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one of the guys got bitten by a lamprey
Oh Jeebus!!! They are horrible tings to begin with not to mind if one clamped on to you. Were they wearing a wetsuit? I presume the lamprey wouldn't be able to get through it?

Personally I have an irrational dislike of sea weed and my mind goes wild thinking of all the things that could be lurking in there thinking I look tasty. I have nothing to base that on except maybe having watched too many scary movies!!
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17-09-2020, 09:17   #12
coL
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Good to assess and consider risks, but 99.99% of the time OW swimming passes without incident.
Totally agree and don't want to scare monger but I think the first step is to be able to make a fully informed decision about the risks involved and then see if with full knowledge of these your level of ability is sufficient to adequately deal with them.

It was only when my friend asked me to list out the risks that I began to think to myself maybe there are things I haven't considered!!
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17-09-2020, 09:23   #13
listermint
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i see you listed risks, but what about mitigation measures

Like

- Swim Wetsuit (bouyancy in case of injury or emergency helps you float)
- Wet Bag or Toe Line Bag (again bouyancy in case of injury or emergency helps you float)

I use both and tbh it makes everything much easier and also safer.
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17-09-2020, 10:05   #14
audiRon
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Oh Jeebus!!! They are horrible tings to begin with not to mind if one clamped on to you. Were they wearing a wetsuit? I presume the lamprey wouldn't be able to get through it?

Personally I have an irrational dislike of sea weed and my mind goes wild thinking of all the things that could be lurking in there thinking I look tasty. I have nothing to base that on except maybe having watched too many scary movies!!
No wetsuit, just left a bite mark on his chest, was in the middle of the English channel. Haven't heard of something like that happening since.
Again not to scaremonger, but another friend of mine got bitten by something on the face training at the beach, ended up going to the tropical diseases clinic to get the infection resolved, left a scar on his face.
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17-09-2020, 10:14   #15
whisky_galore
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Thanks for the info. What are the chances of an ell or something else taking a nip out of me from the sea weed?
You have to threaten a crab, mess around with it or corner it before it has a go, usually they stay still, hide or scuttle away from anything bigger, you would need to be very unlucky to get bitten by an eel.
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