6 hacks to beat your fear of open water swimming

6 hacks to beat your fear of open water swimming


todd quackenbush


It really is completely natural to be afraid of the open water. It’s a fear that many people share, and although they may not tell you because it’s just not something that you’re ‘supposed’ to be afraid of.


For many people, it’s not simple not to overcome their fear. They are too afraid, and they just can’t bring themselves to do it. But for others, the fear of being underwater is something that can be overcome with a little bit of work.


With proper tow floats and dry bags and by following the simple hacks you can find below you’ll be able to overcome the intimidation of open water swimming in no time.


Face your fears


The first step to overcoming your fear of open water swimming is to face your fears. You can’t overcome fear by sitting on your hands and hoping it goes away.


You have to be honest with yourself and admit that you are afraid of the ocean, lake, or river. You can’t overcome fear until you acknowledge it.


So why are you afraid of open water swimming? Is it because of the cold? The waves? Sharks? All of these things can be overcome, but only if you are willing to face them.


Once you’re honest about your fear, you can begin to work through it. You may want to start by reading about open water swimming and taking a class or two. Talk yourself up as you enter the water, reminding yourself that you are safe, healthy, and strong. 


Feel the water


To make your open water swim a little less scary, familiarize yourself with the area before you take the plunge—by taking a practice swim there or by simply driving by and having a closer look at it. This will give you a chance to get comfortable with where you’re going and how long it’ll take to get there.


If you’re going into the ocean, be sure to check out the water conditions before you go. Look for rip currents and other hazards that might make swimming dangerous.


If you’re swimming in a lake, make sure there aren’t any boats or jet skis that could run into you. Other things to consider: how deep is the water? How does it feel? Is there shade available if you get overheated? If you’re swimming in an area with a lot of boats, be sure to stay close to shore.


Get a proper gear


A good swimsuit, goggles, and fins can make all the difference between enjoying your time in the water and the feeling like you’re drowning. The right swimsuit will keep you comfortable and protected from the sun. Goggles will help prevent water from getting into your eyes, and fins will give you more power in the water by making it easier for you to move around.


However, if you still feel uncomfortable, use a tow float to keep you on the surface. The float will help keep your head above water and allow you to focus on your stroke technique without being distracted by trying to stay afloat.


If you’re not comfortable swimming without some kind of flotation device, you may want to consider taking lessons or hiring a private coach. Some coaches will even come out with you on the water and swim alongside you as they teach you how to swim properly.


The most important thing to remember is that if you feel like your stroke technique is suffering because of a lack of buoyancy, then it’s time to take action. A swimming float can help you get back on track by allowing you to focus on your form instead of just trying to stay afloat.


safety to shore

Save your energy


If you’re not comfortable with your stroke, work on it until you feel more confident. Then, try to incorporate that new, improved style into your open water swims.


Practice in a pool, and learn how to save your energy in the water. If you’re still nervous about taking the plunge in open water, practice in a pool and gradually move closer and closer to the edge of the pool until you’re ready to take on open water swimming!


Start small. Once you’ve mastered the basics of open water swimming in a pool, try swimming at a beach or lake that has other swimmers around, but don’t go too far out! You can always swim further if you want to challenge yourself later on!


Always have a company


Having another person there with you can be a big help in building up your confidence and making sure everything goes smoothly. Consider booking a lesson with an instructor who can help guide you through the process. If that’s not an option, go with a friend or two who has experience in the open water swimming.


When you go out on your own, it can be easy for you to get distracted by everything around you and lose focus on your own fears. But when someone else is there with you, they can help keep you grounded and focused on your goal.


Also, if you have someone with you, it will be easier for them to spot a problem and help get you out of trouble.


Make yourself comfortable in the water


This means practicing things like treading water, floating on your back, and turning over onto your stomach in shallow water before you try them in deeper water. The more comfortable you are with these skills, the less worried you’ll be about them when they’re required during an open water swim!


Take it slow. If you’re worried about not being able to swim far enough, try starting with a short distance and working your way up.


Face your fears head-on by taking one step at a time toward your goal instead of trying to tackle everything all at once. Start by setting small goals, like swimming 500 meters without stopping, and then gradually build up from there as your confidence grows!


You can set yourself up for success by choosing a goal that’s both realistic and achievable. For example, if you want to swim the open water course at your local triathlon, try breaking it down into smaller pieces first by swimming laps in a pool. If you’re still feeling nervous about being in open water, start with small lake swims or rivers instead of jumping right into an ocean swim!


Woman swimming in lake


Final word


We all know how swimming can improve both physical and mental health. The tips above should help you feel more comfortable about open water swimming. Remember that most nervousness is mental, brought on by your own mind, and geared towards objects (such as sharks) that are not likely to be around.


Don’t let your fears hold you back. Grab your swim gear and enter the open water! Be a part of something great! And remember to follow these tips for a positive experience. Good luck — and have fun!