Open water swimming and my V1 wetsuit
Growing up in the UK, my experience of open water swimming mostly consisted of summer holidays to Portugal and splashing around in the ocean. Although as I grew older, I did begin to take part in some lake swimming during the summer months. Moving to Australia in 2020 to pursue my PhD in the area of sports nutrition, I stumbled across a group of ocean swimmers and was intrigued, maybe a little excited about the idea of ocean swimming. I made a very quick decision to when I step into the ocean for my first experience of open water swimming in the ocean, which has now become a very important part of my life. It is hard to explain how I felt that first time I ventured out into the sea of blue, a little nervous but also filled with curiosity, excitement and a sense of freedom in my body and mind.
Open water swimming soon became a passion. I joined the Gold Coast Open Water Swimming Club very early on and to this day I am so grateful for to be part of this incredible group, a community of likeminded individuals. Together we share similar passions, a love for swimming and a love for the ocean.
In this blog I share with you some of the benefits of open water swimming, as well as my experience with the Volare V1 wetsuit, which has been incredible for keeping me going during the cooler winter ocean temperatures.
Why open water swimming?
Exercising in nature, in the open air can have a profound positive impact on both our physical health and mental health. Indeed, recent studies have shown exercising outdoors can help to mitigate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yet open water swimming appears to go above and beyond other forms of activity with regards to the possible health benefits.
Open water swimming helps provide individuals with a sense of elation, it is exhilarating, boosts your mood and you leave the water refreshed, energized and free from any worries, anxieties or stresses you have before the swim.
Personally, having grown up battling many mental health struggles for most of my life, open water swimming in the ocean has provided me with a form of therapy (free therapy), which soothes and calms me both physically and mentally. Feeling the gentle movement of the water as I glide through my stroke, seeing and hearing the waves crashing down, being completely free in this serene, peaceful bliss is truly magical. A time when I can escape any chatter of the mind, it is just me and the ocean.
Whilst living on the Gold Coast means for most of the year the ocean is not too cold, the temperatures can drop in winter. This may seem unappealing for some, but benefits from open water swimming in colder temperatures are manyfold. Essentially the cold water causes blood to be pumped to the extremities, endorphins are released, and this is what provides you with this euphoric feeling. Other possibly benefits you may experience from cold water swimming include:
- Boosts to immune system
- Improvements to blood circulation
- A natural “high”
- Reductions in stress
- Great way to socialize and meet new friends
- Reductions in pain and increased energy levels
- Reductions in respiratory infections
While I am fortunate to be in a part of the world where the ocean temperatures are quite warm most of the year, in winter they are cold enough for me to require a wetsuit. Equally, I appreciate that not everyone in the world is so lucky to be situated where they are able to swim in warmer temperatures.
In the short winter we have on the Gold Coast, I am reliant on my V1 Volare wetsuit. It is perfect to enable me to keep enjoying my swimming during the cooler months. While some of the other swimmers in the group may brave it without (some complaining they are cold), I am able to enter the water easily, and be able to swim for over an hour (before I tire) without feeling cold. This is helped by a 3mm body panel, and 2mm around the key movement areas (e.g., legs and arms) so my stroke remains relaxed.
The wetsuit is the most comfortable I have ever worn, it is extremely flexible allowing for free movement, I do not feel restricted, and I glide through the water effortlessly. The neon yellow arm and leg panels are also great to ensure I am visible in the water, and great for when you want or need to be a standout from the crowd (e.g., open water races, triathlons or in large groups).
Overall, the V1 delivers leading performance for an affordable price, an undeniably good deal to be had.
Jennifer Hamer BSc MSc – PhD Candidate and Mental Health Advocate