Starting at 8pm from the beach and swimming in challenging conditions 1km across the bay. This was a great swim. The video is made by Anthony with drone footage from Chris.
Saturday evening 19 December 2020
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
You can browse all the open water swim groups, classes and lessons on offer from us as well as the pool squads, in one place right here.
Use the calendar to choose a date, book ahead to lock in your place, spots are always limited so the more you book ahead the better 🙂
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.
Our entry-level swim class is the 8am Challenge Yourself group.
We learn the basics of breathing, good freestyle stroke and kick, sighting, swimming straight, sustainable relaxed swimming for long distances, group swimming and drafting.
All in shallow water you can stand up in.
Coach Jason teaches Australian AUSTSWIM freestyle with open water skills direct from the coaching manual to you.
“I have no big new ideas,” says Jason.
“You will learn sustainable, relaxed freestyle in the bay, straight from the textbook.”
“I have been teaching kids and adults for decades and here at Williamstown since 2014. I can teach you to love going for a swim in the sea and make freestyle easier for you.”
“If you want to keep improving, many swimmers move up to the 9am Open Water Swim Skills Group.”
Challenge Yourself Group is very popular, has limited spaces and produces unbelievable results.
Go on, Challenge Yourself, come for a swim in the sea with Coach Jason and the team.
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.
By Ben Wilson
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.
Thanks Coach Jason and The Mussels.
We didn’t know if this was even possible.
Can we run an open water swim group – in the sea – for multi class and Special Olympics swimmers?
To tell the truth, I was reluctant to find out – but when Hans from Special Olympics persisted and we ventured into this, we discovered a whole new experience to enjoy. And that was swimming with people who don’t get to explore the deep blue sea, the salty water, the sun and the movement.
Yes the movement all around – waves, chop, windy splashes, currents. I didn’t quite appreciate how that might be the big first impression – and big first hurdle to overcome – for pool swimmers with special needs.
“Why is it moving?”
I’ve got a good answer for that question now. But there were other hurdles. The wetsuits were difficult to put on. There was no actual end to the pool.
Plus there was the feeling of unsteady sand under feet. We expected that might create uncertainty for our autistic participants but the swim buddies were all great supporters and just essential confidence builders. We got to the water!
Now, after two clinics, we seem to have created a bit of a monster. Most of the participants were so happy with the day out at the beach they have been asking when they can do it again
No OW swimming for multi class athletes
Multi class and Special Olympics athletes have, up until now, largely missed out on enjoying open water swimming. Supporting swimmers with special needs is a labour-intensive operation requiring competent swimmers to be buddies, other safety volunteers and the coaches to all work together with the athlete, their carers, coach and club. Insurance, of course, is a consideration and a risk assessment approach is required.
There has been no multi class categories in open water events in Victoria until 2016. And no way for pool squads to train in the open water.
Now some open water events, like the WOW Challenge / VOWC and a few other public participation open water swims in Melbourne recognise and support multi class swimmers. We think eventually every event will need to buy more medals for multi class athletes and think seriously about how they need to support access for all swimmers.
Bringing it all together
Hans and I first talked this idea through with Liz Gosper from Inclusive Sports Training six months before anyone got near the water. We got great support from Special Olympics (thanks Simon!) and the volunteer lifesavers at WSLSC. Nothing would have been possible without the swim buddies from The Mussels and Swimming Victoria backed us up as well. We could not have put this on without all of these organisations chipping in.
The stars aligned for us at Williamstown to bring this project together. Our first two open water clinics were a huge success.
What actually happened
At our November and December 2017 clinics, swimmers from Special Olympics Victoria looked tentatively at the sea from the safety of the Lifesaving Club’s front lawn. Looking at Mum, Dad and the coaches for assurance, these swimmers were introduced to their ‘swim buddies’ from WSLSC’s Ocean Swimming Club “The Mussels.”
The buddies helped swimmers put on some donated wetsuits (thanks Inclusive Sports) and we met on the beach for dryland exercises. We stood in a circle and joked around a bit.
A couple of swimmers found the feeling of the shifting sand under their feet stressful. We hadn’t yet got to the water. I may have been concerned at that point how this was going to turn out.
But the buddies did a great job, sticking close to the swimmers and with our three WSLSC volunteers on rescue boards we leapt into the sea. Well some didn’t quite leap. More of a slow amble.
We practised high elbows and body position in the open water and sighting before breathing. We played touch the toes and had fun drafting and trying to swim straight. By the end of the hour we had swum more than 1.5km in deep water and no one had returned to shore.
For me the enjoyment of the participants and the look of new confidence on faces proved the concept. The icing on cake has been the medals and podium finishes at open water events by participants from our clinics. These are strong pool swimmers who have rarely before ventured into the open water.
The volunteers who helped all had a great time as well, as did Hans and I, so yeah, we’ll be doing it again!
Supported Open water swimming squad is back!
Saturday 11 February 2018 12 Noon – 1pm
Saturday 17 February 2018 12 Noon – 1pm (with Inclusive Sports Training)
Saturday 24 March 2018 12 Noon – 1pm
Contact Jason for more info.
If you are planning on a great summer of swimming in open water events, triathlons or just enjoy getting out in the sea, you need to be at the pool each week.
But many swimmers waste their time, money and effort going for a swim by themselves. Nothing replaces the workout, the skills, the technique and the rapid improvement you get from swimming at the pool with a squad and coach.
And because it’s a great social experience, you’ll come back again and again, and reap the long term benefits of an active lifestyle. You’ll be encouraged to work and push your boundaries because everyone is sharing the same goal – of improving our swimming and fitness.
Making a commitment to train with a group is the step up that many triathletes and swimmers need to enjoy their swimming and perform when it counts.
Pool Squad for OW Swimmers and Triathletes is Tuesday, 7.30pm. And the venue is the beautiful Victoria University Aquatic Centre, Building L, Footscray Park campus (drive in from Farnsworth Ave).
We swim 2.5 – 3km of solid aerobic and anaerobic swim sets combined with our tried and tested OW skills sets. We have lane space for swimmers of various speeds.
Just $10 and you get free entry to pool and sauna!