Hey guys, I’ve finally put together my post about Swimming. Here you’ll find all the info you need to start swimming.Whether it be in a pool, a lake or the sea. But firstly, here’s how my obsession began. Enjoy xx
I love swimming. Like properly love it. 6 years ago I couldn’t really swim properly. I mean I was still doing the dodgy front crawl that I learnt as a kid. The one where half the pool is empty after I’d been in! It was my friend Lorraine who got me started with my swimming addiction. She asked me if I wanted to do a triathlon with her. I love a challenge so said yes, and then realised that I had no bloody idea about lake swimming. So we had some lessons with Dan at Swim for Tri. And the next thing you knew, we were swimming Lake Geneva! All 70km of it!!! Honestly, this is one of the things I’m most proud of. We went from amateurs to well, lets say ‘professional amateurs’! Only 15 people have ever swum Geneva and we did it! In a relay in 30hrs and 34 minutes. We were aiming for 35hrs so you can imagine we were pretty chuffed with ourselves.
What this taught me, more than anything, is that you can achieve anything you put your mind too. Like seriously! As an example, I could never master the breathing from both sides. It was driving my crazy! So one day I just stayed In the pool until I got it. 3hrs and 20mins later and looking more like a shrivelled lizard than a human, I did it! Mind over matter ALWAYS. So whether you’ve been swimming for years or fancy giving it a go, you absolutely can and should.
Finding your people to swim with is key. I’ve continued to swim with these same friends for years. We even have a team name-‘Swim and Tonic’-excellent I know!! ;) Anyway, these woman are some of my favourite people in the World. Swimming really bonds you. That might sound weird but to me swimming is a passion, an addiction almost. So it's great to have some friends who get that. There’s nothing more invigorating that a cold swim on a Sunday morning followed by a hot coffee with friends. I mean you also have to be slightly mad, but that’s the fun of it. Swimming together is also reassuring. I know that if Lorraine, Dipa and Nina are with me, no matter how hard I’m finding the swim that day, we’ll complete whatever we set out to complete. That can be a 400m loop of a lake, or a 2.5k sea swim. We push and encourage each other like any team would. We try to swim together at least once a week, and inbetween that we swim alone in our local pools or lakes.
Swimming is a full body workout with no impact, meaning that it’s soooo good for your body. Most other exercise such as running, cycling etc has an impact on your body. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it, I mean I’m an avid Peloton rider. But adding swimming into your routine can help massively with your cardio, any injuries and with your all round fitness. I also completely switch off when I swim. I don't know if it's because I'm concentrating on my technique, or whether its the power of the water. Either way, it's great for your soul.
If I had to pick, I’d def say that cold water wild swimming is my fave. My god it makes you feel amazing after. I’m a “just get in” kinda girl. Don’t mess around, that just makes it worse. However, don’t just dive into an icy lake and hope for the best if you've never done it before!!! Build up your resilience to the big dip by having cold showers for a few minutes every day for a few weeks before. The Wim Hoff method is also fantastic if you’re starting out. He has loads of videos on You tube. And once you're in, breathe slowly and don't panic. Some people (Nina, I’m looking at you!) like to take their time when getting in to cold water. That’s not for me, I’d end up talking myself out of it! And it’s true what they say, it’s much better when you’re in!
When wild swimming alone, I would also recommend going somewhere that is supervised. Start in a lake not in the sea. Rips and currents in the sea are mainly invisible. Lakes tend to be much calmer. Our fave spot is Shepperton lake. Firstly, it’s beautiful. Secondly, the team are fantastic. There are always life guards on canoes on watch so you feel super safe. There are a ton of lakes like this around the UK. The Open water swimming page on Facebook is full of locations. I would not recommend swimming somewhere random without checking if its safe. There can be dangerous algae’s in lakes. This is why the water looks super blue in places when you go to a supervised lake. This is a liquid they use to make sure the water is safe. It's not bad for the lake, you, or the animals that live init FYI. Try not to think about them when you're in the water. Easier said than done until a Duck swims over your head!!
Another tip is to make sure you always have an easy exit as you can lose control slightly if you get too cold. If you do feel panicked, just float on your back for a bit and take slow, deep breaths. If you’re swimming at a supervised venue (please do this)! Ask them what the signals are for if you need help. It’s usually a hand in the air or something simple like that. Either way, they’ll be over to help you before you know it.
You can feel slightly dizzy on your first lake swim as the water isn’t clear like a pool. That is totally normal. Please don’t let any of this put you off. Just take it slow. I just wanted to give you all the info so you’re prepared.
When I’m on holiday I set aside an hour a day for sea swimming. I always find a beach with a life guard and tend to swim width ways rather than going out, super deep. Mainly for safety. During lockdown, when then pools were closed, I did go down to Hove a few times to swim. Not quite Ibiza, but still nice. I do get kinda seasick in the sea though which is annoying, particularly as we are thinking of swimming the Channel next year!! Although let's be honest, the best thing about swimming at the sea is the fish and chips after!!
After a cold swim warm up as quick as possible. You tend to keep getting cold for about 20 minutes after you are out. A Dry robe is my fave thing ever. You can whip off your swimsuit under it and it is so snuggly. Get a hat and socks on asap too to keep the heat in. And take a hot drink in a flask, or get one from the coffee shop or van on site. We’re very lucky to have A Wacka coffee van at Shepperton lake. The best Oat milk flat whites in the land!
If you fancy outdoor swimming but prefer a pool, there are also some amazing Lido’s around. Our faves are Hampton lido. A particular fave of mine as it’s heated which is just dreamy on a cold winter morning. Parliament Lido is also a great. Although this is not heated, so prepare yourself for that!
I find indoor pools a bit boring. Although they are great if you are training for something. In London, The Olympic pool is brilliant for long lengths as it’s 50m. Marshall street pool which is tucked away behind Carnaby street is also gorgeous.
In cold water, I wear a wetsuit in the Winter. I actually much prefer skins (that means just a swimsuit). Because although Wetsuit’s are great for buoyancy, I find them quite restricting to swim in. Although it’s not about that in Winter, it’s about keeping warm. My wetsuit is by Speedo and is great as it’s pretty lightweight. A wetsuit should fit like a second skin so make sure you measure yourself before purchasing. Height and chest are the most important measurements. If you’re inbetween 2 sizes, take the larger size. Decathalon is a great site for all things for wetsuits. But do check out the likes of Ebay too, particularly if you fancy a bargain.
Wetsuit boots can also be fab in Winter. Now I’m talking about when the water is 3-10 degree’s. That is bloody freezing so protecting your extremities is important, particularly if you’re just starting out. Gloves are also an option. I just find both of those things slightly restricting, but they def keep you warm and that does mean you can stay in the water longer.
Firstly, trust me when I say, a swim cap does NOT keep your hair dry if you swim front crawl. What it does do it keep you warm, streamlined and it stops hair getting on your face whilst swimming. Particularly good when sea swimming as thinking you’ve swum into a pile of seaweed when it’s actually just your pony tail in your face is not ideal!
My choice of swim caps mainly revolves around the design-the brighter the better for me! Ha! And yes, of course I found a tie dye one! Lorraine swears by her Neoprene blue Seventy hats. It’s great for keeping in the heat and covers the ears too. Thinking I actually need to get myself one of these as she always seems to get it on in about 10 seconds, whereas I can be there for ages trying to stretch my bloody hat over my thick locks. Plaits are key!
Ok, so I have tested multiple googles and their are two pairs I swear by.
The Speedo Vanquisher mirrored version.
These are anti-fog and the mirror lens is great for a sunny day as it offers minimum glare so they are ideal for outdoor swimming. They also have UV protection which is essential. And they are really comfy.
Speedo V class goggles
If you’re worried about goggle marks, these one’s are def the best I’ve tried. Yes, you still get marks but not as much as usual. They are also really comfortable and also have the anti-fog technology. Click here to buy.
I like to wet my googles before I put them on. The old spit trick also works. Although if you’re not keen on that, an anti-fog spray pre-swim is also great. There’s nothing worse than foggy goggles so def give them a rinse before hand. Oh, and it’s almost impossible not to get goggle marks. I just tend to massage that area with eye cream after my swim, once I’ve cleansed. This tends to help.
These can be great if you are prone to ear infections. They also help with seasickness if you swim in the sea. I haven’t tried any music earphones for underwater as I like to concentrate, but I know there's a few of them out there now. For the standard swim earplugs, I recommend Surf Swim Ears. They really keep the water out and are on a string so you won’t lose them when swimming.
Oh the options are endless!! I much prefer a sports back swimsuit as these are more flexible, there is no chance of the straps falling down and they are just more comfortable to swim in. Again, mine are mainly Speedo. They do some wicked patterns and colour combo’s. I do like myself a Sweaty Betty swimsuit too, but nothing beats a good Speedo. Click to buy here.
I mentioned this earlier but seriously, who’d have thought one of my fave items of clothing would be an oversized camouflage, kinda furry coat?! But it is. It’s so brilliant. It’s waterproof and keeps you mega warm after a swim. They also do towel version’s if you prefer that. And you can find cheaper options. But the OG Dryrobe is def worth the investment if you’re going to be swimming regularly. I have the camo short sleeve in a medium.
I swear by my Apple Watch. It’s waterproof and bloody awesome and great for measuring your swim. Click here to buy.
If you're thinking about an Apple Watch - you can also read my blog about why I love mine!
Skin and haircare
It is key to wear an SPF when swimming. Particularly on the back of your body.You’d be surprised how easily you can burn, even on a muggy day. Ultrasun sports SPF50 is my fave for swimming. I’ve never burnt when using this. Even on a big swim. As the name suggests, it’s specifically made for Sport. This makes it highly sweat and water resistant. Just remember to reapply every 2 hours like you would normally. But make sure you don’t go too close to the eyes. SPF and googles do not mix. Click here to buy.
Cleansing ASAP after a swim is important. Whether you’re pool swimming or wild swimming, chlorine, salt water and lake water can all dry out your skin, particularly your face. I love the following babies.
Elemis pro collagen cleanser
Brilliant as a first cleanse. It’s oil based so gets rid of that dry feeling on your skin. Click here to buy.
Aurelia Miracle cleanser
My fave second cleanse. It’s super creamy and makes sure anything remaining on your skin is removed. (25% off with LPD25). Click here to buy.
Kate Somerville Goats Milk cleanser
This is brilliant if you have sensitive skin or find you get a bit red after swimming. Click here to buy.
Ren clarifying clay cleanser
Great for a deep cleanse. I love using this when I’ve been swimming in the sea and my face can feel particularly dry. Click here to buy.
After a shower it important to moisturise your body as it’s not just your face that’s effected by the water. Chlorine can be particularly drying. I love using an oil based shower gel like the Aromatherapy associates Shower oil as it leaves your body feeling very nourished. I also LOVE putting the Elemis Frangipani oil on my skin after a shower. It’s a beauty. From a moisturiser POV I love a rich cream my faves are:
Marie Reynolds Butter balm
This is rich and a gorge blend of butters and oils. It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, probiotic and brightening. Click here to buy.
Ouai body creme
This smells stunning and blends into the skin instantly. It’s super hydrating. Click here to buy.
Sol de Janeiro Bum bum cream
If you know, you know! Click here to buy.
Weleda Skin food body butter
A cult product that leaves your skin instantly moisturised. Click here to buy.
Aurelia Dry body oil
This is a beauty. It is easy to blend, dries quickly and is non sticky. 25% off with LPD25. Click here to buy.
I always have to wash my hair after a swim. Honestly, this is the most annoying part of swimming. Just make sure you’re using a good shampoo and conditioner. My go-to is Living proof’s Restore. I also make sure I do a hair mask at least once a week to keep my hair in good condition.
Philip Kingsley Swimcap cream
I mean this is pretty genius as it was created for the US Olympic Sychronized swim team! It’s basically a water resistant version of the cult PK Elasticizer. It protects hair from chlorinated and salt water and UV rays whilst hydrating! Leave it on whilst swimming and then shampoo and condition it out after. Click here to buy.
Living proof Night cap
This is great as it’s a leave in mask. Apply when hair is wet and style as usually. It leaves your hair so soft and shiny. Click here to buy.
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian butter hair treatment
If you love the Bum bum cream, you’ll love this. It leave's hair super soft. Click here to buy.
Aquis hair wrap
This is a brilliant, heat free way to try your hair. Especially great if you’re having a shower at the pool. Just chuck this around your hair after and leave it to try naturally. (Unless you’re going to the pub after the pool! If that’s the case, use a hairdryer.) Click here to buy.
Ok, I think I’ve covered it all! My last bit of advice would be to just do it! Get In the water, you’ll never regret it! Let me know how you get on or if you have any tips as I can always add them to the post.
And in the words of Dory ‘Just keep swimming’
Love Lis xx