How far could you swim out to sea?

A solo swimmer swimming away from the beach, out to sea.

During a private lesson in which I was helping a participant overcome her ocean anxiety, one of the challenges we had was the transition from the relative safety of the shallow water, to the deeper water behind the wave zone.

By the next lesson we had made significant progress, making it much further out where we hung out for a short time to acclimatize, and then when the anxiety came back we made our way back to shore.

This got me thinking…

If swimming out a short distance was a huge achievement for my anxious beginner ocean swimmer, how far would I have to swim out to sea before I started to become anxious?!

I’ve grown up sailing, wakeboarding and ski paddling on top of all my pool and ocean swimming, and have no problem being out in deep water, but these activities involve a boat of some description which give a sense of security.

But what if I just swam out from the beach alone with nothing but a pair of goggles?

I don’t know how far I’d get, but I’d reckon it wouldn’t be that far before I started to feel anxious, turned around and high-tailed it back to the beach!

How far do you think you could swim directly out to sea?


First published in January 2012

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  1. There is a swim at a to-remain-unnamed surf club in Tasmania that lines it’s competitors up on the beach and gives them 20 minutes to swim as far straight out to sea as they can go. If you stop swimming at any stage, you get pulled by the water safety teams. Furthest out to sea still swimming at the end wins!

    Actually, it’s on on the 17th of March – you should come down and compete Andre…

  2. I had a near drowning experience in Gulf of mexico in one of the paradise coasts. Looking back, it seems so surreal.
    You know the silent bulge of a wave that you see behind the ones that come rolling down? Never trust it!
    My son and I rode the rolling waves, did some somersaults and swam for a while. Then I made the mistake of riding the silent wave as it rose in front of me. I got stuck behind the bulge. The under current was so strong that swim I couldn’t swim back or go in another direction . Every time it rose, it pushed me further from the land some more. I floated on my back until my son got some help. I was lucky that he was spotting me. If I had gone all alone, I would have drowned out of exhaustion. Also, if you do go to a place where the feet don’t touch the ground anymore, never panic. It makes it worse. I did some treading, sculling with arms and the breast kick motion and managed to stay afloat. Two biog men came and dragged me from the currents.

    It might take a long tome before I swim in in any kind of open water again. A kayak or surf or some flotation device makes us feel invincible in deep water. Without those, we humans are insignificant specks next to the force of nature. Imagaine trying to reach the edge of a giant tank of water while the water is sloshing around in a circular motion