Swimming in the Heat

As we move into the hottest months of the year I want to provide a reminder and a few hints to all who swim outside.  Let’s address the life-threatening side first.  There is a reason why the USA Swimming Association has rules about water temperatures for races. USA Swimming rules dictate that water temperature cannot exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit for races of 5K or longer, and that the air and water temperature combined may not exceed 177.4 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures have been set for safety of the swimmers. Think about how many times your local pool is above those temperatures and higher. Many shallow and southern lakes often exceed these temperatures during the summer months.

When you are swimming you still sweat, but the cooling aspect of sweating is not the act of sweating, but the sweat evaporating off your body.  The sweat cannot evaporate when you are swimming and you effectively killing your bodies ability to cool itself.  This makes it critical to drink water during warm water swims.

I know that you are looking at the last paragraph saying to yourself, that’s nice but how do I carry water in the lake. I wanted to give you several tricks I have used in open water to help me cool off when I could not carry water with me:

  • If you are swimming with a boat escort have boat go out in front of the swimmers by a safe margin and churn the water with their propeller by speeding along your path. Churning the water will pull the cooler water up to the surface
  • Kayakers and paddle board escorts can provide the same help. Have them paddle just in front and off to one side. Their paddle will pull cooler water up and put it in your path.
  • If you wear a cap, wear a Lycra cap instead of the more common latex and silicone caps. The nylon is lighter and breaths and will allow your head to stay cooler, keeping your body cooler. Do not underestimate how effective this change is in keeping you cool, our heads are where we lose the largest percentage of our body heat.
  • Rollover and do backstroke. Getting your face out of the water can help you cool down.
  • My last idea is something I could use your, my readers, help with sourcing. You can tow a small float or wear a belt, using either to carry water. I have not found what I consider strong options to mention here. If you know of good options please post them below.

Stay cool to stay safe. Remember as the water gets over 82% your risk of heart attack and stroke increase with each degree.

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