After completing said swim, there were a bunch of things that I thought of that could be helpful if you are going to be tackling an open water swim. These are just my thoughts based on my one and only open water swim (other than as a kid at summer camp swimming in Sebago Lake in Maine).
1. Avoid the sharks Certain times of day are feeding times for the shark family. Dawn and dusk swimming is not recommended unless you want to be the appetizer or main course for the sharks. Leaving all shiny jewelry and accessories at home is also a good idea. Sharks like sparkle!
2. Be sure to have a buddy My coach had arranged this swim and there were two of us doing our first ocean swim. Sami paired us up and she was an extra swimmer keeping us all within a safe area. It was great having an extra pair of eyes to keep the group together.
3. Wear a bright colored swim cap Going along with the safety theme, it is important to be able to be seen by other swimmers and also boaters. If you are wearing a dark colored cap, chances are they will not see you until it is too late. I chose this beauty and yes, it would be hard to miss sighting me in the water.
4. Swim close to shore If possible, find a place to swim where you have access to either docks or the beach. Having a place to recover if you get too tired is imperative when you first start swimming in open water, It will be an easier transition from pool to lake or ocean swimming if you have a place nearby for a rest. We stopped several times during our swim to wait for others and those docks kept us from having to tread water and use up precious energy.
5. Wear fins or a flotation device Just because you are a strong and capable swimmer does not mean you cannot wear something to give you a little boost in the water. Sami knew I was absolutely petrified of a potential shark problem and she gave me her wet suit shorts to wear. This was not an option. She just threw them down from her porch and said, "Pam, put these on.". And I did and it made the swim super easy.
6. Have a recovery beverage handy While it does not seem like you are sweating, swimming is a hard aerobic exercise and replenishing your fuel supply is important after a workout. Having something handy when you get out of the water is nice, especially if you have taken in ocean or lake water. The taste is not the best!
7. Have fun Once I got in the water and started to relax I greatly enjoyed our morning swim. When the group goes again, I will be there!