Open Water Swimming Safety

A very important rule you should always observe is never swim alone or don’t swim alone without telling anyone. It doesn’t matter how experienced of a swimmer you are, when training in any large outdoor body of water you should always pick a companion to swim with or have a friend on shore who can see you or that you check in with. In the Water World Swim group training sessions and events, you will always have coaches and pilots who are watching as you swim. They are in radio contact with someone on shore and/or on the boat. During permitted events, the Coast Guard and SFPD are also on patrol. Make sure you are visible to the pilots in the kayak and other boats in the bay. This is why we wear the brightly colored swim caps. Always obey the pilots instructions or commands. They will guide you to safety.

Coach George Piloting an Alcatraz Crossing

Try to be on time and don’t jump in without telling anyone. On large group swims we will have a sign-in sheet. Check in with the coach and sign-in sheet and sign-off when you get out. All swimmers will have signed waivers which includes contact and emergency contact information. The coach will give instructions for the day’s swim, go over the conditions, and answer any questions you may have.

During large group swims, we will break up into pace groups of fast, medium and slow swimmers. Do not be embarrassed to be in the slow or beginner group. We want everyone to have a good safe workout in the best conditions, that means swimming to the appropriate level of challenge. If you are an experienced swimmer or triathlete who is tired from hard training the day before, you may also choose to swim in the slower group on a particular day. First time bay swimmers will be covered by a pilot and swim as a group. Beginner groups will be no larger than six swimmers. Often we will have a leader in each group. Don’t be surprised if you get picked to be the group leader during a session, especially if you have been swimming with Water World Swim on a regular basis. You may want to pick another person your speed to swim with, a swimming partner, or bring your friends or sweetheart. If any swimmer becomes uncomfortable, needs a break, or wishes to return to shore, raise your hand and shout to the nearest pilot. Most often another swimmer will return to shore with you if you need it.

Tony Piloting a Thursday Weekly Workout

When waiting for help from an approaching pilot kayak, listen to the pilot for instructions. If you become panicked or tired, relax, float on your back and BREATHE, as this cures 99 % of all swimmers anxieties.

Though the coaches and pilots may check in with you periodically, you are ultimately responsible for your safety and communicating what you need. If you do not feel like swimming, return to shore immediately. Make sure you let one of your fellow swimmers and pilots know you are exiting. When outside still feeling cold and shivering out of control tell anyone around you to lend you more jackets or cover you with clothes.

HYPOTHERMIA can creep up on even an experienced swimmer very rapidly. Because our training sessions are less than an hour and shorter in the winter, it is very rare for our swimmers to experience extreme hypothermia. Yet, it is important to recognize the symptoms:

  • Sleepy
  • Tired
  • Too comfortable while swimming
  • Warm sensation
  • Swallowing too much water
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Unable to speak
  • Shivering
  • Very sluggish stroke
  • If you feel any of these symptoms, the WORST thing to do is PANIC. Heart rushes blood from the core of your body to the extremities which can lower your temperature even more. You may lose control of your breathing and get cramped and not be able to swim. Cramping from exhaustion paired with cold can create a dangerous situation. REMAIN CALM and Raise your arm and wait while floating. Once you get out, what you want to do is get into dry clothes and indoors immediately. Drink some hot fluids also. If it is very severe, you will get first aid and emergency assistance. After swimming in the bay on a regular basis your body will become acclimated to the temperature and you may find yourself swimming for longer periods of time without any problems.

    By following a few important safety precautions, you will have a GREAT TIME swimming in the bay! Join us on our next Swim With Pedro Weekly Workout

    Kayaks from Water World Swim Touch Alcatraz-N-Go Event

    Protecting Athletes: Open Water Safety Conference March 18-20


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