Open Water Swimming - Risk Overview
OPEN WATER- RISKS TO BE AWARE OF
Swimming in open water and being at one with nature is an incredible experience with many benefits for body and mind. We take great pride in the maintenance and upkeep of our lake, but it is very important that you understand what comes with swimming outdoors, in the elements and with nature so that you can best prepare yourself with the required equipment and assess its suitability to you.
Please see below an overview detailed some risks and hazards of swimming outdoors in a natural body of water.
Warm weather – a time when swimming in open water is cooling and soothing to your body, but it is important to adhere to wearing the correct swim wear and protect yourself from sun burn and heat stroke. You are also still at risk of hypothermia or shock in hot weather due to the difference between the air and water temperature.
Warm weather also brings with a rise in allergens in and out the water. Reactions to insect bites and pollen mean that you should wear appropriate equipment while swimming open water to help protect your skin.
Cold weather – acclimatising to water temperatures is very important and again the correct equipment will assist with this. Please only swim in cooler temperatures safely and always with someone else. We run a Winter Club from November to March which requires an induction course and is a lifeguarded weekly swim.
Open water temperatures fluctuate depending on the weather, it is important that you acclimatise yourself to swimming in open water – by wearing the relevant swim gear for the time of year.
Wetsuits provide protection for your skin as well as extra warmth and added buoyancy.
Open water swimming can put you at risk of hypothermia, so it is important you take into account the water temp prior to entry and ensure you wear relevant equipment and take care on exit to dry off and change into warm dry clothing quickly.
We post regular updates of the water temperature of our lake on our website, and our Instagram page OWA_INFO.
Our lake has a natural eco-system. We do not use chemicals in our lake, and because of this it is naturally clean and full of life.
We have not introduced fish, and as yet see no sign of them.
From frogs, dragonflies and a vast array of water insects, that keep the eco-system alive and the water clean and clear for your swimming pleasure.
We have planted reed beds to assist in this natural cycle, and we do our best to maintain over growth of oxygenating water plants – or weeds! We do recommend not swimming in or onto the weeds or reed beds.
With warm weather comes swimmers itch, a global problem which can occur in any body of open water, where water fowl and snails may be present. This can affect some (particularly those with sensitive skin / prone to allergic reactions) but not all of us, and can cause itching. In brief; a microscopic parasite comes into contact with your skin in the water. Upon contact with human skin, the parasite dies, but causes little red bumps (like an insect bite). These can go away overnight, but for some they can last for weeks and your immune system will react more so upon repeat contact.
Precautions you can take:
- Wearing full protective swimwear (swimsuit, swim hat, goggles, wetsuit/rash vest and leggings)
- Apply a cream specifically made for this issue prior to swimming (some find factor 50 sunscreen works!)
- Rinsing, showering immediately after swimming and towel drying your skin (we provide an open air outdoor shower for rinsing off)
There are also many recommendations online as to relief for bites should you think you have been affected.
This is not something we can predict or stop, being a natural occurrence and as it doesn't affect everyone we can only advise you that is may happen and it is therefore worth taking the prevantative measures above.
Our lake is purpose built for open water swimming, and although we have deep areas in our lake (max 2m), you can exit from any point as the sides of the lake are gradual to walk out.
Feeling out of your depth can happen to even experienced swimmers, so it is again important to wear the correct equipment to not only help keep you safe but also make you more visible to lifeguards on duty, should you panic, get cramp or need assistance for whatever reason.
IN WATER AND UNDERWATER OBJECTS
Natural objects (such as stones) and foreign objects (items that may have been lost accidentally while swimming – glasses, jewellery etc).
Take care when swimming what may be underfoot. Our lake was dug out in 2020 and so we know it is clay and some stones. It is lovely to go bare foot, but you can also wear aqua shoes or wetsuit boots when swimming open water.
Floating and flying objects such as pollen, leaves, insects etc – which is why protective swimwear, in particular swim cap and goggles is important.
Our water is tested regularly and continues to score ‘excellent’ for open water swimming.
BAREFOOT ON LAND
We manage our grounds, but being a beautiful natural setting please be aware while walking the grass that there may be insects, stones and thistles etc.
YOUR HEALTH AND FITNESS
Please consider your health and safety prior to swimming in open water, for example
It is not recommended to swim open water
- after consuming alcohol or while feeling hung over.
- if you feel unwell
- if you have a large cut
Our swim sessions are lifeguarded, and we have trained first aiders on hand.