Let me ask you a question, do you run with water? Do you bike with water? I know you said yes. When I coach my beginner triathlon group, I ask them these questions during our first work out each year. Virtually everyone is nodding their head yes as I ask these two questions. I point to the side of the pool where our paddles and fins are sitting and ask, so why don’t you have water with you to swim?
Usually, I get a lot of blank stares. There is always one brave soul who ventures a shrug and a comment like “We’re standing in our water”. My well-practiced reply is to ask the individual if they really want to drink this water? Then after a look or two from the group I explain what I want you to know about the importance of bringing your water bottle to the pool.
The process of sweating occurs while you are in the water, but sweating is not what cools your core. It is the process of the sweat evaporating from your skin which cools you down. In the water, it is impossible for the water to evaporate while you swim, hence no cooling effect. Now many times the water is cool enough to keep your core down. There are however, more than enough occasions where the water is not cool enough to keep you from over-heating. 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, or many shallow and southern lakes often exceed these temperatures during the summer months.
Start drinking before you feel the need for the water. If you wait until you feel thirsty, or hot, you have waited too long. I like to drink small amounts at a time between every set.
Just because you are wet, don’t be fooled into thinking you are being cooled. Bring your water bottle and drink often.
Up Next: Tapering and the Distance Swimmer