Learning swimming in open water

The pristine, calm azure waters of beaches in and around Muscat and even the emerald pools of Wadi Shab, Wadi Bani Khalid, and the Snake Gorge are some of the waterbodies of the Sultnate that tempt us with good dip, especially in hot summer. This open water swim is an adventure full of thrill and exclusive fun. While pool waters are calm and predictable with marked depth lines, the sea and wadis of the country are harder to evaluate. Venturing in them is full of risks but with the right skills and expert guidance, they can be fully enjoyed to the full extent.
If swimming is your kind of sport, open water swimming is what can make any amateur and learner even better in enhancing those lap skills. Initially, it may seem frightening not to see the black lines and the walls of the pool; even the second and the third attempt in the deep blue sea might pose a similar anxiety as well. But with each endeavour grows amazing feeling of accomplishment; braving the wave while leaving the fear behind.
Upon reflection, open water swimming isn’t actually very daunting. As per the experts, knowing the right swimming techniques and understanding water conditions will allow you to easily navigate through different challenges.
“It is important to have control over your breathing and keep your body streamlined and understand the tides when swimming in the sea. When swimming in wadis, knowledge about its depth is very important,” shared Dr Rajendra Shangvi, a doctor by profession and a veteran open water swimming coach.
Unlike in pools, beginners find it easier to learn and float in the sea water because of buoyancy. The buoyant force of the sea water helps the body to keep afloat easily.
“The first and most important step in swimming is floating. Without proper knowledge, then the art is lost. It is also basic to keep oneself away from drowning,” he said.
He shared that proper body posture while in water, fully taking control of one’s breath, a good grip of the right swimming strokes are few techniques that need to be mastered.
“Most people freak out when water suddenly turns cold, especially during the winter months. A perfect wetsuit to keep the body warm is what one needs in this condition. Most importantly, keeping a sharp focus on breathing and immediately turning on your back and staying afloat can help a swimmer navigate the water well. Cramps are very common problem. Therefore, it is important to keep the body well hydrated and always swim with a group or with a paddler around,” shared Muragesh, an aquathlon participant, and an ace swimmer.
With its growing popularity, open water swimming in Muscat is also becoming in vogue. “The calm waters, the turquoise blue colour, always allure me to swim and explore the underwater charm. Oman has a plethora of marine life which can only be explored if one is skilled in open water techniques,” says Emma, an open water swimmer.

Safety First
“Knowing the water is very important. The high and low tide timings play a major role while swimming in the sea. Even though the tide seems to be in favourable condition, the major mistake done by most is jumping in the water without any supervision,” shared Emma, an open water swimming enthusiast.
As most drowning incidents happen due to lack of knowledge; it is important to have a swim-buddy alongside, believes the expert.
Swimming alone can bring in lots of risk than when one is in a group. In some cases, ignorance about rip-tide and perfect techniques forces one to near-drowning situations. Even under perfect weather condition, swimming parallel to the coastline is highly advised by the coaches and experts. “It helps to track the laps and at the same time, makes it is easier to look for a way out in case of emergency. It is the best practice for one to build stamina and get techniques corrected to perfection and getting ready for competitions,” she added.

Learn from experts
With over one hundred fifty members in the group, Alawi Swimming Academy Muscat is one of the organisations in Oman that can provide one with the needed advice on how to do open water swimming in a safe manner.
It is made of a dedicated team of skilled swimmers and coaches, who not only encourages swimmers into open water swimming and drill them for competitions but even trains beginners and amateurs alike. Some of the basics they teach include floating, perfect leg kicks and hand movements and several other high-end techniques needed to swim in the open water bodies and overcoming the dangers of near drowning.
Follow them on https://www.facebook.com/groups/814211568616188/ for a safe and fun-filled swim in the sea.

SWATI BASU DAS
axisswati@gmail.com