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YOU GET CRAMP Cramps can be brought on by all manner of things: low electrolyte levels, stiff muscles, cold water, fatigue etc. and are very common, especially in longer races. Aim to stop and quickly stretch the off ending muscle before it gets too serious. If it’s the calves or feet think fl oppy thoughts to keep these body parts loose and relaxed.

YOU GET DROPPED BY YOUR RIVALS OR THE MAIN PACK Don't give up. When you feel the 'elastic' snap between you and the person you're draſt ing, commit to another 20-30 strokes to try to latch back on again. If there's been a surge ahead to cause this split, chances are it might set le down again in about this period.

CONDITIONS ARE TOO ROUGH FOR YOUR NORMAL STROKE Most of the world's best open water swimmers and triathletes adapt their strokes for the conditions they face, rather than maintaining a super-smooth pool stroke. Aim for a straighter and higher arm recovery, a quickened stroke rate and a more rhythmical stroke without being excessive and fi ghting the water. Punch on through in extreme cases – sometimes you just have to let that smooth stroke go!

YOU GET COLD, OR HOT Try elevating your stroke rate a touch to generate a lit le more body heat. Always practise and acclimatise where possible to cold conditions prior to racing in them, as obviously there are serious hypothermia ramifi cations of get ing dangerously cold when you swim. If on the other hand you begin to overheat, allow a lit le cold water down the neck every 5-10 minutes.

HOW DO YOU MAXIMISE PERFORMANCE? Just focus on the next stroke, then the next dozen strokes, get ing to the next buoy etc. Break it down and think less about what you have leſt to complete and more about staying focused on each stroke here and now.

YOU GET CHEST PAINS OR BREATHING DIFFICULTIES Chest pains can be very serious when swimming, and the shock that you may experience from cold water can (in extreme cases) bring on a cardiac arrest. Always get yourself checked out by a medical professional prior to starting any new fi tness regime or entering a big event and if you have any concerns during the swim call for help immediately.

YOU FEEL DIZZY OR DISORIENTATED This happens to some people in rough water. Learning where key landmarks are prior to the start and relative to the direction of travel can really help, as too can anti-nausea tablets and simply ensuring that you don't roll your head around too much with the body except when breathing. Keep the head still and stable and this will really help. Some people fi nd wearing ear plugs also helps.


Some people are more prone than others to sickness when they're on or in water. If this is you, follow your doctor's advice on medication that might be able to help. On longer marathon swims many swimmers vomit aſt er their third or fourth feed oſt en due to a too-rich carbohydrate 'hit', or from the diesel fumes of any supporting craſt . Drink pure water at your next feed stop and see if this alleviates symptoms. ○



Swimming costume (bathers/trunks, spares, etc) 2. Wetsuit if needed, plus spare

3. Neoprene glue for instant repairs of small wetsuit nicks or tears

4. Soft gloves (such as gardening gloves) to reduce risk of damage to your wetsuit while putting it on

5. Small plastic bag for helping put on wetsuit (see

6. Swimming caps, plus optional neoprene cap, if allowed.

7. Goggles, including spares set with two varieties of lens – one for overcast conditions and one for bright sunlight. (This could drastically improve how straight you swim).

8. Vaseline or other lubricant to reduce chaffing. 9. Wool fat for insulation in non-wetsuit colder swims 10. Carbohydrate and electrolyte drinks for pre-swim, during the swim (>5km) and post-swim

11. Small 'fruit top' style bottles (250ml) to dispense a good dose of fluid at drink stops. Having a 250ml bottle for each drink stop in a longer swim (>5km) is an easy way to ensure that you get take on a measured amount of fluid. With partially drunk 750ml bottles, it can be hard to gauge just how much you've drunk.

12. Energy gels or bars for a bit of sustenance during longer swims, or for a quick hit 30-45 minutes before you start.

13. Sun cream and zinc sunblock (which is also useful for drawing distinctive markings on your body for friends / relatives to pick you out in the melée, and to assist with feeding in longer swims).

14. Sea-sickness tablets for ocean swims, to help alleviate nausea in rougher conditions.

15. Rehydration formula and / or chocolate milk – both great ways to replenish after a tough swim.

16. Two large towels

17. Bin liners for clothes pre-race 18. Marker pen for numbering 19. Stopwatch, watch and/or GPS measuring device

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