Water temperatures hit double figures in North Wales! So it's very nearly time to dust off the swimming kit, as the water temperatures are climbing rapidly. Here are five top tips (and one bonus tip) to help make sure you have a safe and a happy start to the swimming season.

Don't start with the duration or distance that you finished with last year. Your time off over the winter has reduced your acclimatisation - take it easy and enjoy it... climb out wanting more. For your first swim, there's no need to be hitting your training targets - focus on relaxing and enjoying the water.

Go with some friends. Keep an eye on each other, and encourage one another. Swimming alone comes with extra risks, and swimming in a group is a whole load more fun.

Swim somewhere that you are familiar with - so you know you entry and exit points. One less thing to worry about, and you will already have places to leave your swimming kit.

Before you get in, make sure you have got all your kit sorted for when you get out. Towel ready, clothes the right way round, boots unlaced, in the order you are going to put them back on... so towel or Robie on top, then trousers, then tops, then socks and shoes.

Take a flask of hot water - for a hot water bottle & a tasty hot drink.

Don't forget the cake!

Back in September, a gentleman known as Steve asked an innocent enough question on the Outdoor Swimming Society Facebook group.

I'm curious - if you could capture in "one word" what your own motivations are for open water swims, what would that word be ?

The thread grew and grew with eventually over 100 responses. At some point in time, another lovely lady called Debbie took those words, and put them into a "wordle" (random word cloud thing) generator - and it came up with a fish. The size of the words was dictated by the frequency that they appeared in the list, and so the Freedom Fish was born.

Debbie is a friend of ours, and after lots of people suggested getting T-Shirts made, she approached us and we had a chat. We decided that Gone Swimming would help fund the initial print run, and also provide the online shop platform, and postage resources; all to raise money for the Nile Swimmers Project charity.

The Nile Swimmers initiative is a unique and innovative program aimed at reducing rates of drowning on the River Nile and the surrounding areas. They do this by providing training, conducting research, building partnerships, and providing a perspective from low-income countries.

The design was refined, printers were sourced, lovely organic cotton T-shirts were decided upon, and here we are!!

Freedom Fish design

Such a lovely story of an innocent question, collaborative answers, and then a collaborative effort to raise money for a good cause. The T-Shirts have been on sale for less than 12 hours, and we have already sold 1/3 of the stock! Looks like we may need another print run.

To get yours, visit our shop.

Are you a first time open water swimmer? Well, open water swimming can seem scary for first time swimmers. In fact it doesn’t seem scary, it is scary. Those first time nerves come with everything but open water swimming is a fun way to get fit and have swim freely. Here are some tips on how you can conquer that first time fear and enjoy the space and freedom of open water swimming.

Firstly, enter the water slowly & deliberately, and don’t hold your breath when you first take the plunge…. or better still don’t jump/dive in at all. Holding your breath increases the stress in your body. Taking deep breaths also has the same effect so instead breathe in and out as normal at a steady pace.

Practise, practise, practise. Practise swimming the distance in the pool so you feel confident that you can manage it. One of the best tips is to practise swimming beyond your distance so you know it is definitely manageable and you know you can swim your open water swim with extra energy resources at hand.

Keep calm and give yourself space. When you’re in the water, make yourself feel as relaxed as possible. Give yourself plenty of space and know you are prepared. Also practise breathing exercises so you know how to calm yourself down.

If you start panicking half way through the swim, breaststroke for a while. Go back to the first swim you learnt as a child, the most popular type of swimming and regain control. More often than not, your fear at this point will centre around lack of breathe and tiredness. Swim like this until you feel comfortable again and then carry on as you were.

Know you’re not alone and look around you. Open water swimming scatters people all over the place but the people around you or near you are those of similar abilities and probably mind-sets. Have a break and try making conversation if you’re scared and it’s your first time. Failing that, talk to people before you swim. Swimmers are friendly and first times are scary but everyone has been there. The best way to relax is talk to people and understand everyone is in the same water, literally.

Open water swimming doesn’t have to be traumatic. It is fun, daring and a great way to get fit and feel free. First time nerves are inevitable as with anything else but these tips will help and allow you to have a great time and a successful event. For more swimming tips and aids, take a look at the Sports Direct swimming page.

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