5 tips for swimming safely in open water

Freiwasserschwimmen: Sicher unterwegs in Fluss und See

Swimming in a lake is a pleasant and relaxing experience. But even strong swimmers can be intimidated by large, deep lakes. We show you step by step how to overcome your fears and swim safely in open water.

Tip 1 for open water swim­ming: breathe deeply

It may sound trivial, but how you breathe can have a great effect on your safety. Before entering the water, take five minutes to breathe deeply. As soon as you're in the water, focus on breathing calmly. This will automatically make your movements smoother and more regular, and stop you unnecessarily losing strength. A positive side-effect is that you'll be distracted from thinking about any fish or seaweed in the water.

Tip 2: take an inflatable buoy with you

Open water swimmers mainly use them as a means of being seen by boats. But an inflatable buoy can also make you feel safer: if you get cramps or need a break, you can hold on to it for a moment. Very nervous swimmers could wear an aqua jogging belt for added buoyancy.

Tip 3: swim parallel to the shore

It sounds logical: start by swimming along the edge in an area where you can still stand. This means you can take a break at any time.

Tip 4 swimming style: switch to your back occasionally

Now and again, swim on your back for a short while. This is relaxing and adds variety to the exercise. And you don’t strictly need the correct backstroke technique: a simple frog stroke is fine. Try to keep your head and neck relaxed.

Tip 5 to relieve neck muscles: head under water

The last step in open water swimming is to swim with your head under water. Many people may find this particularly difficult in a lake or river, but it relieves the neck muscles immensely. A helpful tip when starting is to only submerge your chin and mouth, keeping your eyes above water, like a crocodile.

Ultimately, swimming in a lake is just something to get used to. Take it step by step and you’ll gradually start to feel safer.

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Safety tips for open water swimming from the Swiss Lifesaving Society

Even swimmers who feel confident should be aware of potential dangers in lakes – and in rivers too. The Swiss Lifesaving Society has compiled a list of helpful tips.

Basic swimming rules also apply in open water

  • Only allow children to enter water if accompanied – don’t let small children out of your reach.
  • Never enter the water under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Never swim on a full or totally empty stomach.
  • Never jump into water when you're overheated – the body needs time to adjust.
  • Never jump into murky or unknown waters. Unknown waters can be treacherous.
  • Don’t take inflatable air beds into deep water. They don’t offer any security.
  • Never swim long distances alone. Even the best trained body can experience a weakness.

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