Paul Benson’s beautiful photo (above) makes me want to run and jump in the water, so I’m starting a Wednesday mid-week reset swim at Williamstown Beach. I’ve been inspired by these oddballs (their description) from Perth who have found something awesome to recharge their personal batteries every Wednesday:
This is NOT a CLASS or a SQUAD.
This is just a simple ‘meet-up’ of like minded oddballs.
There’s no booking or money. People can swim 10 metres or 10,000 metres, it’s all up to you. I’m not providing coaching, a safety team, wetsuits, caps or anything. I’m having a go myself and inviting you to try this midweek reset thing with me.
Cool water is well known to improve your mood, once you get in and out again, and being a in a group makes it all better.
MEET: In carpark behind WSLSC at western end of Williamstown Beach.
Summer sunset swimming with up to 40 friends. This is renewing, refreshing, romantic and magical – everyone who does it says stuff like that.
So bring a friend (or not), swim with all of us, and have the best summer solstice swim you have EVER HAD. This is a LARGE group or we split into smaller groups.
We leave, not from the beach, but from the Crystal Point Steps. then we swim 400 – 500m across to the eastern Red Fishing Club marker and back around the rocks and beach. 1km relaxed swimming at your own pace.
You get a glowing safety marker for your cap, a lighted course with buoys, markers and a team keeping us company.
You also get to swim at sunset on the solstice! This is amazing and you have to do it at least once. Why on earth (sea, tides, sun and moon) haven’t you already done it?
Wear any swimwear you like, get a cap with safety marker, follow the bright flashing markers, and go for it. xxx
Since 2015, Coach Jason Bryce has run the 9am Open Water Swim Skills Group at Williamstown Beach on summer Saturdays.
Swimming about 2km in the no-boating area, with a safety team, the group learns sighting, breathing, swimming straight and group swimming.
These are the distinct open water swimming skills that you can learn and practice to make your swim more enjoyable.
More than 1,000 swimmers have attended the class over seven summers.
Coach Jason teaches textbook AUSTSWIM freestyle technique with open water skills added on. Jason is a qualified Coach of Open Water Swimmers.
Mostly this group is about having safer fun swimming in the sea. Over the years we have got better and better at this group and learning what swimmers want and need from their open water swim group and coach!
If you want to transition from the pool to the open water, or if you want a great Saturday swim group with an experienced safety team, come down to Williamstown Beach about 8.45am. We meet in the carpark behind the lifesaving club.
This group typically features a coach, a teacher assisting and a safety team on boards or kayaks. This group swims to the yellow ‘no-boating’ marker poles about 200m offshore from Williamstown Beach, but not beyond.
The Melbourne Open Water Swimming Club is based at Williamstown Beach.
The club is an incorporated association dedicated to supporting and providing access to open water swimming for people from all backgrounds and abilities. The club has recently affiliated to Masters Swimming Victoria.
Open water swimming takes place in a natural uncontrolled environment.
The Melbourne Open Water Swimming Club supports swimmers with safety equipment, education, squads, training, coaches, teachers, swim buddies and safety teams.
The club follows Lifesaving Victoria guidelines for open water swimming, in particular:
Don’t swim alone far from shore.
Don’t swim while cold.
Prevention is the best safety.
All swim groups are risk assessed and have appropriate safety teams.
Swim groups generally stay within the no-boating area.
The Melbourne Open Water Swimming Club is making Open Water swimming accessible to everyone.
The club is registered, incorporated and operating but we are building this organisation from scratch, with a generic name, no logo or mascot yet. We do have sponsors:
Is cold water swimming healthy? Is swimming in the cold winter ocean safe or advisable? What water temperature is considered cold in cold water swimming?
Firstly, yes, swimming in the sea during winter can be healthy and safe and completely energising and revitalising. There is no doubt that cold or cool water immersion can assist with blood circulation and science says this is just the start of the benefits. Your mood will improve and your brain functions will improve as a result of more blood flowing through the head.
But, and there is a big but, you need to know some of the basics before jumping in. And you probably won’t be jumping in anyway, more like a slow walk at best.
That’s because cold water swimming done wrong can be risky and dangerous to your long term health.
Dangers of cold water swimming
Cold water shock – When you first get in the water, you will feel the shock of the cold, especially on your head, hands and feet. The terms “Ice cream headache” and “Brainfreeze” will have new meaning for you. Your breathing will be constrained and you need to focus on your exhale to calm down. Cold water shock can lead to panic attacks requiring assistance or rescue. Enter water slowly with hands in the water. Don’t submerge your head in the cold water until you feel ready.
Hypothermia – the big one. Hypothermia is when your body’s core temperature falls below 35C. This can lead to unconsciousness, organ damage, organ failure and cardiac arrest. You may not realise you have hypothermia or how low your temperature has fallen because your brain and body is not functioning efficiently. Never swim alone, never swim when you are shivering and never swim too long.
Swim slow down – Cold water swimming causes your body to restrict blood flow to the arms and legs. This slows down your movements but you may not realise it. Eventually you can no longer swim properly. Don’t stay in the water if you are at all struggling or slowing down.
After-chill – When you get out, the cold blood in your arms and legs begins to circulate again, lowering the core body temperature. You may feel colder ten minutes after your swim than during your swim. Warm tea – to warm up your core from the inside and warm clothes as soon as possible is the best solution. A steaming hot shower straight from the cold sea is less effective and not very beneficial.
How to swim in winter.
First – yes do it you will enjoy it. No one ever regretted a (safe) swim. Be prepared though if you want the benefits, not the injuries.
There is nothing enjoyable, smart, healthy or tough about swimming for long periods alone, far from shore in very cold winter water with just speedos to protect your modesty.
You can get hypothermia from swimming for long periods in relatively warm water – into the mid 20s degrees Celsius, so winter water needs to be respected.
First a wetsuit, gloves, boots, cap (or two) is the best way to protect yourself from the cold while swimming in winter. But even all this neoprene will not protect you from Hypothermia and all the associated risks after about an hour.
Second – Swim in a group, never alone, don’t stray far from shore and shorten your swim for winter.
Third: A thermos of hot tea is your best friend.
Fourth: A run along the sand before or after your swim can help keep you warmer or warm back up.
How long should I stay in the cold water?
Lifesaving Victoria say if you are in cold water for more than one hour, you almost certainly have hypothermia and are at risk of black out. Limit cold water swimming to less than one hour in winter when water temperatures are low.
If you have low body fat, you will want to be getting out of cold water after about 45 minutes, depending on the temperature.
What temperature is “Cold Water Swimming?”
Cold Water swimming is a general term but there are guidelines and health and safety regulations around cold water swimming events. Swimming Australia, FINA, triathlon organisations all have rules for cold water swimming based on health advice. All too often these rules get developed after a tragedy or many, so let’s find out more:
Cold water swimming temperatures in centigrade/Celsius:
Mid 20s degrees: warm enough for everyone
22C: Warm in Victoria, but a bit nippy for northerners from NSW and Queensland!
20C: You might like a wetsuit for long swims.
18C: Time for a wetsuit. FINA and Swimming Australia say wetsuits (not swim suits) are mandatory in OWS events under 18 degrees.
16C: FINA and Swimming Australia rules say no event can be held in water under 16 degrees.
15.5C: Swimmers who want to qualify for an English Channel attempt must swim for two hours, without wetsuit in water that is 15.5C or less.
10C: This is cold. Limit swims to well under one hour and do not attempt without a wetsuit at very least.
8C: Do not enter the water for more than a very short period of time – max 30 minutes – for the most experienced swimmers.
5C: This is called Ice swimming. Please seek medical and psychiatric advice.
I have been competing in Olympic distance triathlons since the 13/14 season here in Melbourne. I have always been a good runner and the bike came naturally. The swim however was harder work and seen as a necessary evil to competing.
Leading into races, my anxiety levels would be at an all time high thinking about the swim. I always managed to get through well but knew I could do much better with dedicated open water swimming coaching.
I decided leading into the 17/18 season that I would get some coaching, as I wanted to take my racing to the next level. I looked online and came across Coach Jason’s open water swimming class on a Saturday morning at Williamstown.
After attending my first class I immediately felt much more comfortable in the open water. Coach Jason has a friendly teaching style and provides a lot of great advice and drills to help improve technique and efficiency.
I spent 4 weekends in a row in Coach Jason’s class with my confidence and technique getting better each week, Coach Jason then encouraged me to move into The Mussels group. The Mussels are a group of swimmers who get together every Saturday morning and swim in a non-competitive and highly encouraging environment. Some swim a couple of hundred metres, other swim 3km+, it’s totally up to you.
The Mussels have been absolutely incredible for my further development and I owe a big thanks to Tim and Neil for their guidance and support. I am now swimming 2.5km+ every Saturday morning in the open water. It has resulted in me taking 5 minutes 17 seconds off my swim leg PB for 1500 metres, and 6 minutes 8 seconds off my Olympic distance PB this season. I look forward to continuing to swim with The Mussels throughout the rest of the year in preparation for the 18/19 triathlon season.
If you are looking to get more confident in the open water and take your triathlon swim leg to another level, I can’t recommend Coach Jason’s class and The Mussels group highly enough. They have helped remove my open water anxiety and turned the swim into nearly my favourite leg of a triathlon.