Andre Slade

Andre is the owner of OceanFit with over 20 years in the swimming education, lifeguarding and coastal safety industry.

Posts by Andre Slade

The ocean swimming attraction

Competitors run into the water to start their ocean swimming event.

There’s really no better all-round fitness activity than swimming. But 50m back and forth, back and forth in a pool staring at a black line isn’t exactly for everyone.

Ocean swimming allows you to swim as nature intended (no, we don’t mean stark naked) and there are fantastic opportunities to swim socially, participate in an event or travel the world swimming in exotic locations.

Ocean swimming is (obviously, some might say) a lot different to swimming in a pool. For one there’s no lanes or a black line to follow like in the pool, you can’t stop and stand up or hold the edge when you’re tired, and being a natural environment you’ll have to contend with elements like waves, currents and wind chop.

As one of the fastest growing recreational participation sports, ocean swimming is challenging, loads of fun and the best part is that it all takes place in the natural ocean environment!

Ocean Swimming For Body & Mind 

As an ocean swimmer you can enjoy the benefits of becoming one with the natural ocean environment and harnessing its energy.

Being able to enjoy the greatest playground on earth with your friends and share your tales of taming the ocean over a coffee after is addictive.

Swimming itself is a great aerobic activity, and ocean swimming through waves will help increase your anaerobic fitness and build your swimming strength.

Ocean swimming safety

 

The ocean is a hazardous environment at any time and ocean swimmers must always respect it.

Conditions can change in the blink of an eye and can catch out even the most experienced ocean swimmer. Ocean swimming safety should be your first priority, to stay safe follow these ocean swimming safety tips.

Ocean swimming safety tips

  • Always swim with a friend at beaches patrolled by lifeguards
  • Wear a fluro swim cap to identify yourself in the water
  • Know your limits and if in doubt stay out
  • Before your swim, check conditions at the start and end points

Learn about avoiding risks by following OceanFit’s Ocean Responsibility Code.

Ocean Responsibility Code logo that says 'Keep to the code, have fun and stay safe. Know your ocean responsibility code.'

Learn how to survive rip currents

Rip currents are our beaches hidden danger. On any beach with waves you’ll find rip currents working like rivers of the ocean. They return water brought to the beach by waves back out to disperse behind the waves again.

How to spot a rip current

To spot a rip current take 5 minutes from an elevated position and look for patterns in the waves. Rip currents exist where there are deeper channels between shallow sand banks. Identifying features will be darker calmer water, less broken waves than on nearby sand banks or surfers using them to get out behind the waves.

How to survive a rip current

Should you find yourself out of your depth and moving away from the beach; float with the current and converse your energy. Your chance of survival increases the less you panic, so remain calm and look around and call for assistance from nearby swimmers or surfers.

To take direct action to escape a rip current aim for the shallow sand banks where the waves will be breaking, here you can use the waves to assist you towards beach until it’s shallow enough to stand up.

You can avoid rip currents by swimming between the red and yellow flags on beaches patrolled by lifeguards.

Breaking rip current myths:

  1. Rip currents don’t pull you under the water – there is no such thing as an under tow
  2. Rip currents don’t take you ‘way out to sea’ – they will disperse behind the waves
  3. Sand banks don’t collapse – large waves wash people off their feet into rip currents

FLOAT, THINK & ACT

FLOAT

The rip current won’t pull you under, so float – keeping your head above water, conserve your energy and ride the current.

THINK

Your chance of survival increases the less you panic, so remain calm, look around for assistance and think through your options.

ACT

Raise an arm and wait for assistance OR once the current has stopped, swim towards the breaking waves where the water is shallower.

You can learn more about rip currents by watching our video lesson on rip currents and you can learn how ocean swimmers use rip currents to swim efficiently through the wave zone.

Do we need an ocean swimming etiquette?

A birds eye view of the water off Bondi Beach where two ocean swimmers are nearly impossible to see.
There’s two ocean swimmers in this photo who won’t have to worry about bumping into each other! Can you spot them?

The ability to swim freely in the ocean is one of the true magic moments of ocean swimming, but as ocean swimming gets more popular it also means it gets more crowded out in the deep blue.

Do we need an ocean swimmers etiquette to allow ocean swimmers to share the freedom of the open ocean in harmony?

Why an ocean swimming etiquette?

Autumn is truly the best time of the year to be ocean swimming; the water is warm, the morning light is back and the summer crowds have dispersed leaving the beaches to the locals and hardcore.

Yesterday I was swimming a few laps across Bondi Beach and as usual my mind started coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas.

One of the ideas came about because as I was cruising parallel to the beach I was abruptly taken out by a swimmer heading out from the beach.

As is the case with ocean swimming, we simply apologised to each other and carried on our merry way. But it got me thinking whether one of us should have, or could have, avoided it happening.

So, for the remaining laps I came up with an ocean swimmers etiquette I reckon would allow ocean swimmers to comfortably share the freedom of the open ocean.

OceanFit’s Ocean Swimming Etiquette

  • All swimmers should sight regularly
  • Parallel swimmers have right of way
  • Swimmers returning to the beach in the wave zone have right of way
  • Swimmers bodysurfing have right of way
  • Keep a body length between other swimmers when passing
  • Backstroking swimmers should regularly sight in front

 

The complete guide to training for an ocean swim event

Just entered an ocean swim or thinking of training for an ocean swim event?

We’ve compiled a list of hot tips to ensure you’re prepared for your event for maximum enjoyment.

Tips for training for an ocean swim event 

Before you start

  • Talk to and get advice from others that have completed a similar event
  • Get your swim stroke technique assessed and iron out any bad technique early before it inhibits your progress
  • Enter your event early and tell all your family and friends for greater motivation to reach your goal
  • Give yourself plenty of time to train for the event, especially if you’re new to the sport or are taking a step up

Training

  • Learn how to train like an athlete in the sport you’re entering, follow a structured training plan for maximum benefit
  • Learn how to eat nutritiously for maximum energy and recovery, plan your meals and keep hydrated
  • Ensure you spend some time training in the ocean environment that replicates where your event will be held
  • Train at least a couple of times in poor conditions so you’re prepared for the chance of similar conditions on event day

Night before event

  • Eat foods you would usually eat and avoid high fibre meals
  • Check over all your equipment and pack your bags with your official race pack, gear and equipment (including spares) and snacks
  • Read through the event schedule, confirm start times and know the public transport timetable or parking options.
  • Get to bed early and read to take your mind off the event and help reduce anxiety

Event day

  • Consume a light snack high in GI carbohydrates and a small amount of protein 2-3 hours before the event.
  • Get to the event and register early, take public transport to avoid stressful driving and parking conditions.
  • Take the time to view as much of the course as possible focusing on current conditions and the start, finish and any transition locations.
  • Take your mind off the start by talking to other participants and doing a short warm up and stretch
  • Keep hydrated, apply sunscreen and stay in the shade until you’re called to the start line.

During the event

Choose your position on the start line depending on how you want to compete; the front is competitive, the back to take it easy

  • Don’t go out too hard at the start, get yourself into a comfortable rhythm and save some energy for the finish
  • Your body can handle a lot more than your mind thinks it can, so keep going and surprise yourself!

Post event

  • Make the most of the finish and bask in the glory of completing your goal event.
  • If you’re feeling tight, cool down with some light exercise and then dress up warm until you get to shower and change.
  • Rehydrate immediately and eat within one hour of finishing to repair muscles, refuel energy stores and support your immune system.
  • Make sure you share stories with other participants, thank the organisers and check your result!