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Old 10-09-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Lawrence
Default The difference salt water makes

We're just back from Abu Dhabi, where we swam in seas that were warmer than anything I have experienced before, as well as being almost completely flat. That was nice enough. Better still, however, was the difference in buoyancy compared with swimming in a pool. Since the hotel pool was right on the beach, it was easy to compare. When I lay on my back in the pool, my face was nearly all submerged. In the sea the water came just over my ears.

I can't put a percentage on it, but the extra lift provided in the sea made freestyle over distances significantly easier. It might be worth adding that this is the first swimming holiday I've had since feeling I had finally arrived at a consistently efficient stroke I was happy with (there is of course room to improve but I no longer have the nagging worry that the stroke will never be quite what I want), and for that reason even pool practice was a joy. But the open water experience was really surprising.

I would therefore recommend anyone with lingering doubts about their form to try it in a calm and warm sea. Other things being equal, sea swimming is easier.

Anyone experienced a similar revelation?

Last edited by Lawrence : 10-09-2011 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 10-10-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
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I'm with you on this. Swimming in saltwater is significantly easier for me compared with a pool. I can swim 3/4 of a mile nonstop in saltwater; I have a hard time completing 1/4 mile nonstop in the pool. I could probably go longer in ow if the water temp is warmer than it usually is where I swim. The open water I swim in tends to be at least a little choppy, yet it's still easier than the pool. I've even grown to like chop.

There are several factors:
- I feel a greater sense of support in saltwater.
- Saltwater is more forgiving of imperfect balance/strokes.
- I'm very calm in open water, no crowds or sharing of lanes.
- I usually breathe every 2 in ow; when I try that in the pool it doesn't work as well. My balance/stroke isn't where I want it to be. Every 4, with an extra breath or two over 25m, seems to work best for me in the pool. Am working on getting my right side breath to be less awkward and will go to every 3.
- It just dawned on me that I rarely seem to get into a rhythm in the pool. In ow it takes me maybe 8-10 minutes to find a good rhythm, and I'm able to do that because I'm not stopping or turning.
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Old 10-10-2011
dougalt dougalt is offline
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I feel much the same. I also feel that I get into a more relaxed condition in the open, salt water - as a survival mechanism! To avoid exhaustion while still far out from the shore, I rationalize with myself that RELAXING and conserving energy has to be my primary goal. As a result, I seem to settle into the water, stretch out, and my whole stroke starts to improve.
("Far out from shore" can be a very relative term - 50 yards can be VERY far, if it consists of 5-ft surf with roiling currents and rips)
Also, there is the feeling that open water is really what swimming is all about - you can actually GO somewhere utilizing this form of locomotion! One can swim down to the next beach, or out to some surfers to say "hello", or across a lake to the other side... and enjoy the scenery (above or below the surface) as you go along.
An imperfect stroke here or there along the way is not critical (there are no "lengths" within which to foul up a stroke-count), and getting "in the zone" is, for me, a lot easier when not being distracted by bumping into walls every 20 strokes or so.
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Old 10-10-2011
dougalt dougalt is offline
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PS: Talking about "flat" water, we have had 3 or 4 days of west winds here at the New Jersey shore; the waves have been blown out to sea, and entering the dead flat water today was just like walking into a lake. We don't get to see this very often....
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Old 10-10-2011
Mike from NS Mike from NS is offline
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Lawrence, your report of your experience in warm salt water has me envious !

Must have been nice !

About two weeks ago I finally had some time in the salt water here, however having missed the warmer (22C) water the summer brings, I had to settle for some 14C water; but the buoyancy the salt water gives, helped remove the discomfort of the cold water. Being one of "those" people who have fins in the pools, the support of the salt water allowed me to leave the fins on shore and swim "free" -- they didn't even see the water. I felt more balanced and enjoyed the gliding feelings more. And they don't stock the pools with the crabs they have at the beaches - for added entertainment value!
This particular day there was no surf nor choppy waves. Possibly a wet suit may have helped with the cold, but as Naji says so often, swimming naked is the way to go! ;) But then again in the early fall our North Atlantic water is still a bit warmer than the West Coats I suppose.
Mike
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Old 10-10-2011
Lawrence Lawrence is offline
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Mike, the sea in Abu Dhabi was in the low to mid thirties Celsius. Warmer than the hotel pool and about the same, or perhaps a little warmer, than the kids pool near me in London. There wasn't the faintest shiver on the first plunge in. This was in trunks and goggles only, no wetsuit. The only downside was that there were no underwater vistas as the water is cloudy. But in water that warm I think it's easier to concentrate because one feels so utterly comfortable. You forget the water and enjoy the zen.
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Old 10-12-2011
oceanswimfish oceanswimfish is offline
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I swim in winter where the temps in the southern Hemisphere get down to 15C in the ocean and 13-14C in the ocean pools. Wet suits are definitely the way to go along with 2 swim caps to keep the heat in. Some of swim buddies swear by the neoprene caps with a strap under the chin. Apparently the warm water is trapped close to the body and for those who suffer with swimmers ear, cold water exacerbates this complaint. Apart from all of that; It's a lot more pleasant and you are able to swim longer. We usually do 1.8km - 2km during winter.
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